STRAIGHT TALK FROM PETER
1 Peter 1:1-17
From the Gospels most of us have some pretty clear memories of Simon, the disciple of Jesus whom he renamed Peter. He is a rambunctious fisherman who seemed to always have something to say. Sometimes what he said was right on, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” Other times not so much as when he tells Jesus, “Not so, that will not happen to you.” And Jesus rebukes him, “Get behind me Satan, you think as man thinks, not as God thinks.”
A man of action, Peter was the one who took the sword to rescue Jesus from those sent to arrest him even though the best he could do was to cut off the guard’s ear. And after the resurrection when the disciples realized it was Jesus on the shore, Peter was the one to jump into the water and make his way to Jesus, leaving the others to bring the boat load of fish to shore.
But Peter matured and became a leader among the apostles. By the Spirit, Peter was the first one to preach a sermon in the newly founded church. He was the first one to take the gospel to the Gentiles when he traveled to Cornelius’ house. And when we come to Peter’s letter which we call “First Peter” we find him still speaking with clarity and passion.
Please read 1 Peter 1:1-2 in your Bible. Peter introduces himself very simply as an apostle of Jesus Christ. It is all the introduction he needs. His is a position of authority in the church. We find no embellishment of his person here. His excellent service and leadership are not paraded; he is an apostle of Jesus Christ. Period!
He addresses the people to whom he is writing as “those who are elect exiles …” (ESV) or “God’s elect, exiles scattered …” (NIV). That is quite the juxtaposition. Who are they? They are the elect of God, people of position and in favour with God. When we think about it, there is no higher privilege than to be a part of God’s elect people. Think about all that this means to you to be part of God’s holy family. You could spend a long time thinking about this. But Peter says they, and we, are also exiles.
What does it mean to be an exile? It certainly means to not be at home. To be in a difficult place among a people who are not like you. Today we might call them refugees. Forced from their home and countries into places where they are often not welcome. We might rather euphemistically sing, “this world is not my home, I’m just apassing through” but it is often a very painful reality. Today there are Christians who are being put to death for their faith.
This is our reality and it always has been. We are the elect of God and exiles. How did we get to this position? Peter tells us it is by the work of the triune God. God has planned our salvation in this manner.
We are elect exiles “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Right from the beginning God knew the end of our life. He has a plan that is coming to fruition in our lives. Is being an exile tough? Do you rejoice in being one of God’s exiles? We understand that the Father knows and is at work in that situation as well. None of this takes God by surprise. Isn’t that encouraging?
We are elect exiles “in the sanctification of the Spirit.” The Spirit of God has separated us from the world for service to God in holiness. He has chosen us and made us special for service to God and each other. Both as exiles and as elect saints the Spirit is making us holy and building us up to maturity in Christ. The Holy Spirit is with us through all the bumps and bruises of life as elect exiles.
We are elect exiles “to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with His blood.” Our standing as elect saints of God is accomplished by the sacrificial blood of Christ and leads to obedience. But the same is true of our position as exiles in this world. It is all part of God’s wonderful plan of salvation for our lives. Being exiles or even refugees in this world does not negate the saving power of the blood of Christ. And we can and should be obedient to Jesus in any and every situation, as elect saints and as exiles.
I wish we could have been together at the Woodland Beach Community Church today where we could go on to see just where Peter goes in this first chapter. These two verses are just a taste of the wonderful truths in this letter. The next part of the chapter includes teaching about the value of both our salvation and our suffering (verses 3-12).
The second verse ends with Peter’s prayer for us, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” This really is our privilege because of the work of the Father, the Spirit and Jesus Christ; triune God. And that is my prayer for you today even during the restrictions of the pandemic; May grace and peace be yours in abundance. Amen