Unchanging Truths, Part 2
Topic: English Passage: 1 Peter 1:2
Welcome back, everyone, to another midweek message. If you listened to last Sunday’s message you know that we were looking at the opening verses of First Peter.
Peter’s original audience was in a time of difficulty and suffering, and his opening words, we said, served to ground them in some eternal unchanging truths.
We started our list of those truths on Sunday, and now, we’re going to finish them. So, if you’ve got a Bible handy, feel free to turn there. The first verse of First Peter says: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
Looking at those verses we pointed the first truth that we have been chosen by God. That’s what Peter points out when he uses the word “elect.” God has eternally chosen us.
The second truth was that we have been placed by God, and we saw that in the phrase “exiles of the Dispersion.” Other translations say they are “scattered aliens” or “dispersed residents.”
That kind of language is highlighting the fact that heaven is our true home, but it’s also a reminder that, no matter where we are at the moment, God has placed us there, and He is still watching over us. He is still caring for us. He has a perfect plan for our lives.
In the second verse of the letter, what you have is Peter describing that plan. You’ve got phrases unpacking God’s election. To start, it says that election happened “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”
We talked about this last time, and the eternal truth there is that we have been loved. So, we have been chosen, we have been placed, and we have been loved. God’s foreknowledge is not just about Him knowing what we’ll do; it’s about Him, before this universe even existed, placing His love on us in Christ. He loved us before He created us. And that love will exist for eternity.
Now, let’s move on to our fourth unchanging truth. There is verse 2, Peter says that election is “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” and “in the sanctification of the Spirit.” The fourth unchanging, eternal truth is that we have been saved by God. We have been saved by God.
To be sanctified means to be made holy. And the best general description for being holy, is that it means to be set apart for a special purpose. The question here is, what kind of setting apart does Peter have in mind? What kind of sanctification is this talking about?
Sanctification is sometimes used as a synonym for salvation, and it has three components. There is our initial sanctification, which is conversion, when God sets us apart from the world. Then there is the ongoing sanctification, when we are growing in Christian maturity. And lastly, there is our final sanctification, when we are completely free from sin.
I think the best understanding here is that Peter is talking about our initial sanctification, our conversion. In eternity past, God the Father chose to save us. And then, at some point in our life, that election comes to fruition in conversion. The Holy Spirit applies God’s election. He opens our blind hearts to the truth and the glory of Jesus Christ in the gospel.
As Christians, we never have to doubt God’s love, because we know that He has saved us. Our salvation confirms our eternal election. Once in a while, someone might ask, “How do I know if I’m elect?” And the answer there is, “if you’re saved, you know you’re elect.” How do you know if an unbeliever is elect? You don’t. That’s why you preach the word to everyone. And you keep preaching it. Then, as we proclaim the gospel, God’s elect come to salvation, wherever and whenever God has ordained.
It’s almost as if Peter is reminding his readers, even though they’re in a difficult time, about their conversion. And he’s using it as an encouragement for them. Remember that the Spirit of God called you. He sanctified. He set you apart to be one of His own.
Now, that miracle of regeneration didn’t just produce saving faith; it leads to a new nature. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Here is unchanging truth number 5. We have been transformed by God. We have been transformed.
Peter shows us how all the members of the Trinity are part of our salvation. The Father planned it. The Holy Spirit applied it. And Jesus Christ accomplishes it. He died for our sins, and He is the One to whom we surrender in salvation.
Verse 2 says we were saved “for obedience to Jesus Christ.” When life gets difficult, it’s tough to obey. But that’s what our truest desire is—to obey Jesus Christ. If you don’t have any desire to obey Jesus, you’re not a Christian.
Those who have been genuinely born of God love Christ, and they seek to obey Him. We don’t obey Him perfectly yet, but that’s our aim. Sin happens when we get distracted from that desire. But that is who we really are. Our true identity is most on display when we love Christ through obedience.
And what, I believe, Peter is doing here is reminding and encouraging suffering Christians with the true goal in life. The ultimate goal of life is not to get rid of the suffering, or maybe even to survive it. The goal of life is to obey Christ through the suffering. I’m not saying suffering is pleasant, or that we shouldn’t show wisdom in preventing unnecessary suffering. What I’m saying is that, as long as we are being obedient to Christ, we are being successful.
The Christian life begins with obedience because it’s an obedience to Christ’s message of repentance and faith. Later, in First Peter 4, it talks about unbelievers as those who do not obey the gospel. It says the same thing in First Thessalonians 4. At the end of First John 3 it says, “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us.”
When you came to saving faith, you were being obedient to Christ’s command. And ever since then, God produced in you a growing desire to be obedient. You and I don’t obey perfectly, but that’s the desire of our hearts. That’s why we feel the sting of conviction when we sin. That’s why this life is a struggle—because we’re fighting against sin every day.
So, the people Peter was writing to were fighting against sin inside them and against persecution outside them. It was a grueling life. And over time, that daily battle was wearing them down. So, even with this brief introduction, it’s like Peter is telling them: “You have been transformed. You don’t have to give in to sin. You have been purchased eternally, and you have been changed. You have the power to endure.”
There’s one final truth that Peter’s opening greeting gives us. This is going to be truth number 6. The first was that we have been chosen by God. Then, we have been placed by God. We have been loved by God. We have been saved by God. We have been transformed by God. And number six we have been secured by God. We have been secured by God.
The final phrase Peter uses to describe Christians says that we have been chosen “for sprinkling with [Christ’s] blood.” I believe that is highlighting the security of our salvation. It’s a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us in His covenant.
In the Old Testament Law, it was common for the priest to sprinkle blood on the altar. But this passage is talking about people being sprinkled with blood. And the best connection to that is found in Exodus 24, and it’s something that is mentioned again in Hebrews 9.
Exodus is not only the story of Israel being freed from Egypt. It’s the story of God forming His own covenant nation. So, after Israel leaves Egypt, they begin to receive God’s Law. The Law wasn’t a means of salvation it was an expression of the salvation they had been promised.
Exodus 20 is the Ten Commandments. And Exodus 21 and 22 and 23 have many, many laws for the people. This is how they are supposed to live as God’s chosen nation. Well, in the second half of chapter 23, God reminds them that He will grant them a Promised Land and watch over them. He is going to defeat their enemies and bless them with abundance.
And when that’s all over, in Exodus 24, you have the people saying, “We agree. Everything that the Lord has told us to do, we will do. We will obey.” And Moses took the blood from a sacrifice. Half of it was thrown against the altar, and the other half was thrown on the people. And Moses said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Being sprinkled with blood served to commemorate and solidify the covenant between Israel and God. They were bound to obey, and God was bound to His promise. The covenant was sealed in blood.
Well, in Peter’s letter, he’s already mentioned the important of obedience. That’s a commitment every Christian makes: I will obey Christ. The emphasis here then, when he talks about being sprinkled with blood, is on God’s part. He will be faithful to His covenant. Just like He fulfills His promises to Israel, He fulfills His promise to the church. And His covenant to the church was not made with the blood of a bull or a goat. It was sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ.
God has not abandoned His people. God has not forsaken His people. As certain as we know that the sacrifice of Christ has the power to forgive, so we have the certainty that God will be faithful to complete the work He started in us. We rely on Jesus’ blood, Jesus’ sacrifice. We need to cling to that.
We are not going to be perfectly faithful to our part of the covenant. We are going to mess up. We are going to be disobedient. But God is going to be perfectly faithful. He will forgive. He will cleanse. He will save us completely one day. And He guaranteed that when He sacrificed His Son on the cross.
In First John 1:7, it speaks of the power of Christ’s blood, not simply in the past, but in the present. It’s an ongoing power. It says there “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
That’s an ongoing cleansing for those who walk in the Light. That is the ongoing faithfulness of God to forgive and restore. God will always be faithful. He sprinkled us with Christ’s blood as a commitment to that. We are eternally secure. He has secured us in Christ.
What an encouragement in times of difficulty. Because, it’s in those tough moments when we can find ourselves weaker and more prone to sin and laziness and despair. But God is faithful. He will forgive. He will strengthen us because that’s His commitment.
We have been chosen by God. We have been placed here by God. We have been loved by God. We have been sanctified by God. We have been transformed by God. And we have been secured by our God in the sprinkling of Christ’s blood.
Having said all that, then Peter says: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
This is God’s heart and desire for us in Christ Jesus. Yes, this is a difficult time, and yes, it’s going to expose many of our weaknesses. But God’s heart right now, is not to beat you over the head with how many times you’ve failed Him. It’s to minister to you with grace and peace.
And that should overflow into our homes. Parents and kids, this should be a time of grace in our home. A time of forgiveness and kindness. When we choose to overlook something, that doesn’t mean we don’t think it’s a sin, it just means that we recognize the grace of God when He overlooks our sin, rather than beat us over the head with it. And even if there is discipline, which will be necessary at times, it’s always done in grace.
And the result should be peace, not strife. We have been given peace with God through Jesus Christ. And to the degree that we meditate on these great, eternal truths, we will have the peace of God that surpasses what this world can offer. God wants His grace and His peace to be multiplied to us. Shouldn’t we want the same for those around us? Of course, we should.