Defend the Faith with Hope (1Peter 1)

MOTIVATE

This past week the United States celebrated its 238th declaration of independence as a nation. As Americans it is right to take pride in their country. Sometimes this pride shows up through celebration with fireworks. Some people celebrate patriotism through wearing or waving of national colors (red, white and blue of the flag). We may even sing patriotic songs as we opened the service today. Recently when the World Cup was going on many were rooting for the American Soccer team to succeed as a symbol of patriotism.

Patriotism is proper. Biblical authors had affection for their national kinsmen (Romans 9:3). Further, they exhort us to be subject to governing authorities that God established through His sovereign powers (Romans 13:1), to pray for the king and national leaders (1Timothy 2:2) and to honor the emperor (1Peter 2:17). Therefore, patriotism and love for one’s country is honorable.

What makes America great is its principles and its people.

Its principles are captured in the Declaration of Independence saying, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The nation’s principles were founded upon absolute truths stemming from an absolute Creator. Unfortunately, today it seems that society values preferences over principles.

America has not only great for its principles but for the history of its people. Our Founding Fathers risked and forsook comfort for the sake of new country. In years gone by families have given their sons and daughters for the sake of defending and protecting the principles of our country. We cannot express enough gratitude to our military men and women as veterans and current soldiers. We are thankful for their sacrifices and continued service.

Nonetheless, for Christians, patriotism is incomplete. Believers have one king, the Lord Jesus (Revelation 17:14). The Christian’s citizenship is in heaven, where we have a heavenly home in the kingdom of God (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:16). Our faith constitution is God’s Holy Scripture (2Timothy 3:16).

Further, God is not on the side of America. Many compare God’s blessings to OT Israel with America but as America has launched into the twenty-first century we have more in common with OT Babylon or NT Rome. Therefore, the Christian’s mission is far greater than a single culture and country but extends to offering hope to all peoples of every nation (Revelation 5:9).

This is what 1Peter is about.

EXAMINE   1Peter 1 defend faith_logo

Author: Peter, the Apostle (one of Jesus’ original disciples).

–          Peter was imperfect but increasingly growing in character as he learned from Jesus.

–          Some books are harder to understand (2Pet 3:16). Peter was unlike Paul. Paul was a “Pharisee of Pharisees”, whereas Peter was a funky fisherman. In fact, after Jesus died on the cross and before Peter knew Jesus was resurrected, Peter left the disciples and went back to his fishing business.

o       Paul would probably watch CSPAN or maybe History Channel; Peter would probably watch Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch or Survivor Man.

o       Peter is like us… you should be able to identify with him and his writing à pay attn!

Audience: Jews & Gentiles dispersed/scattered as exiles in modern day Turkey (Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia).

Setting: Peter writes to Christians, of whom he calls “strangers” or “exiles” (1:1) and even “sojourners” or “aliens” (2:11). These early believers were patriots of earth but also pilgrims passing through since their new homeland belonged in heaven. They experienced suffering because of their faith and had become part of the “dispersion”; scattered across the Roman Empire because of persecution. So, Peter writes to encourage these people in their faith and witness during trying times.

Many Christians today can learn from Peter’s writings as we encounter a world that is not only inhospitable but hostile toward faith and religious liberty.

We are called to be exiles and not tourists or immigrants. Here is the difference:

Tourists are non-residents in a foreign country. Generally, they only engage culture that is familiar to them and they usually stand out as odd. Likewise, too often Christians stand out as odd because they isolate themselves against a society of which they exist to make better.

Immigrants are non-residents in a foreign country too. However, generally they tend to blend in making the new place their permanent home. They work for the common good. Christian’s who reflect immigrants go along with cultural norms and make no eternal impact.

But Peter says Christians are exiles. Exiles don’t just stand out but they stand up; they are odd with principle and purpose. Their heavenly citizenship informs their earthly citizenship.

In 1Peter 1:1-12 we can see 3 reminders to endure in faith despite hardship.

Christian hope is grounded in praise despite our problems (1Peter 1:1-5).

Peter encourages the believers calling them “elect”. This means they are chosen by God. Have you ever not been picked – for a sports team, rejected in a relationship? Being elect is God showing His love and bringing you into His family, creating a secure covenant relationship with you by grace through faith.

Peter describes our election with 3-fold security (note the Trinitarian roles):

1)     “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” – God knows you (Rom 8:29).

2)     “sanctification of Spirit” – God is pursuing and preparing you for eternity; even these believer’s exile.

3)     “obedience to Jesus and sprinkling with his blood” [1] – God’s atoning salvation is complete

Peter praises God for His “great mercy” that has caused us to be “born again to a living hope”. Because Jesus is alive so is our hope. Religious ritual is dead but Jesus is alive. God calls us to a living relationship through the resurrection of Christ. This hope would sustain the believers in the midst of suffering and persecution.

The believer’s salvation is an “inheritance” – that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept[tense is completed past action with future results] in heaven & guarded by God himself! In the midst of being exiled and dispersed where everything was taken away from them, they could be sustained with the truth that their salvation inheritance was secure.

µ     Praise overcomes problems.

o       When praying for what you do not have, give thanks for what you do have.

o       When dealing with trial or tragedy, spend time treasuring what is not lost.

o       When fearful of future, place your trust in God who holds future in palm of hand.

µ     In the midst of fears, doubts, and failures – return to the gospel that is not based on your merit or worldly might, but only depends upon God’s mercy. Cry out to Him and receive help & hope despite your circumstances.

Christian hope is without an expiration date unlike earthly suffering (1Peter 1:6-9)

The believers rejoice in God’s great mercy even in the midst of grievous trials. Suffering tested their faith. But their suffering was elected as much as their salvation; God is sovereign.

God was using problems to prepare and purify their faith. Peter notes that all of their earthly suffering will be brief in relation to the eternal praise of Jesus.

µ     Peter had trials… and failed them with a rooster crow to remember. His testing gave him a testimony that refined his faith.

µ     Peter’s pride was in the resurrection for 2 reasons: Jesus was alive and his sin was forgiven!

µ     Problems purify.

o       Perspective: praise God for the good and pray when in grief.

o       Perspective on trials:

  • Christian life is simultaneous rejoicing and grieving (1Peter 1:6)[2]. Christian hope is more than just “grin and gritting teeth in trials”, it is peace in midst of storm trusting God for a future and greater joy in eternity.
  • identify with Jesus (1Peter 2:20-21). Jesus wept… Jesus sweated blood… Jesus cried my God my God why have you forsaken me…
  • faith proves genuine… faith is only true if it perseveres (cf. Mat 10:22; Mk 4:17; 2Thes 1:4; James 5:11, 1John 2:19, etc.)
  • faith tested by fire brings maturity (refining)
  • perhaps chastening to holiness (Job 5:17-18; 2Corinthians 12:7; Hebrews 12:5-29; James 5:13-20)
  • revealing areas where we are in sin or where we do not trust
  • perhaps to comfort others (Hosea; 2Corinthians 1:3, 4:7-18; 1Peter to elect exiles!)
  • unbelievers will watch Christians to see if they believe what they say during trials… can be a powerful witness to unbelievers
  • result in praise, glory, honor of Jesus (1Peter 1:7; cf Job; 2Cor 1:9)
  • increasing longing to see Jesus (1Peter 1:8-9; cf. Psalm 90:10-12; Romans 8:18-29; 2Corinthians 4:17 – 5:10)

ð     What are you holding on to that God is prying your fingers away; faith tested by fire?

ð     If/when enduring trial – new perspective is to thank God that He is purifying faith rather than just abandoning you. If you feel God has abandoned you it’s false and more likely reverse is becoming true.

 

Christian hope is mysteriously marvelous (1Peter 1:10-12)

As great as this life-saving story is, it is nothing in comparison to salvation in the gospel of Jesus Christ; which has been promised by prophets, preached by preachers, amazed by angels and is still yet available to all who would believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what Peter is saying…

Peter helps the believers to see that their hope is the same of OT prophets long ago. The prophets experienced trials and testing yet they trusted God’s word and promises by pointing to God’s ultimate Day of redemption. They did not always understand their prophecies as they “searched and inquired”. Yet, their prophecies pointed forward to the salvation of God that would come through the Messiah – Jesus Christ. What the prophets anticipated has been made available to us.

Even more mysterious is the fact that Peter says angels long to look into the salvation of humanity. Literally, they wonder in amazement and desire to know more of the depth of God’s great salvation.

APPLY/THINK

ð     Are you magnifying God or your problems?

o       Problems purify… God is at work in your life… do you trust Him?

ð     Are you living as an exile… suffering because you stand out & stand up for Jesus? If not, then your faith may need some growth… or it may not be genuine.

 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

[1] Wayne Grudem in 1Peter Tyndale Commentary notes further: Sprinkled blood in the Old Testament was a visual reminder to God and to his people that a life had been given, a sacrifice had been paid. But in most Old Testament sacrifices the blood was sprinkled on the altar or on the mercy seat (Lev. 4:17; 5:9; 16:14, 15, 19; Num. 19:4). In only three cases was blood ceremonially sprinkled on the people themselves: (1) in the covenant initiation ceremony at Mt. Sinai when Moses sprinkled half the blood from the sacrificial oxen on all the people (Exod. 24:5–8; Heb. 9:19)…; 2) in the ceremony of ordination for Aaron and his sons as priests (Exod. 29:21; probably also Heb. 10:22); and (3) in the purification ceremony for a leper who had been healed from leprosy (Lev. 14:6–7). Grudem sees the third case in view for Peter, yet there seems no reason why Peter could not have had all 3 in mind – the gospel and NT fulfillment of salvation is full with layers from OT understanding.

 

[2] Grudem, 1Peter, Tyndale Commentary (see note 8 on 1:6).

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