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Summary: On the eighteenth of July, A.D. 64, during the reign of that tyrannical emperor, Nero, the great fire of Rome took place in which three quarters of the city was consumed. It has been usually thought that Nero caused the fire and that while he watched from

A SURE HERITAGE

SCRIPTURE: I Peter 1:1-5

INTRODUCTION

On the eighteenth of July, A.D. 64, during the reign of that tyrannical emperor, Nero, the great fire of Rome took place in which three quarters of the city was consumed. It has been usually thought that Nero caused the fire and that while he watched from a balcony, he played on his violin. Whether he started it or not, the blame was put on the Christians and great persecutions arose against them.

The two Epistles of Peter were written under the shadow of these persecutions, which spread throughout the empire. Jesus had said to Peter:

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:31, 32).

This precious Epistle, from which our text is taken, may be considered a marvelous fulfillment of that word spoken to Peter by our lord. "When thou art converted [or turned back], strengthen thy brethren." It is addressed to "the strangers scattered." These were Christian Jews and Gentiles who were scattered out of the land of Palestine, a scattering often referred to as the "Diaspora."

In a very special sense, every Christian in every age is a stranger, a foreigner, and a pilgrim.

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. . . . And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they 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" (Hebrews 11:13-16).

As Christians, this world is not our home. We should not be at all surprised if we feel like strangers in a world of sin. In fact, there is something drastically wrong with a Christian who does not feel like a stranger among those who do not know the Lord.

Though it is surely true that the Christian does not feel at home here below, and is often misunderstood by those who have not experienced the miracle of salvation, Peter shows us here that we are (1) chosen of God, (2) children of God, (3) heirs of God, and (4) kept by the power of God.

let us now examine each of these four marvelous positions and relationships.

CHOSEN OF GOD (1 Peter 1:2)

"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father." The world may reject the children of God, considering us strange and deceived, but it is blessed to know that we are chosen of God. This doctrine of predestination has probably caused more disagreement among conservative theologians than any other facet of spiritual truth. It is doubtful if any of us fully understand it in its completeness; principally because it rests entirely in the hands of Almighty God, and His ways are continually far above our ways.

Election is "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father." Paul makes it quite clear that we were chosen in Christ "before the foundation of the world." In His great

foreknowledge, God looked ahead and saw us in Christ Jesus. He did not choose us outside of Christ, but in Him. How did we get there? Through faith in Christ.

Thus, we are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification"-or separation-"of the Spirit, unto obedience" - the obedience of faith - "and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Each member of the Godhead-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-had a part in our salvation.

CKILDREN OF GOD (verse 3)

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope."

He "hath begotten us again." We are "born again." We are in the family of God. We are not merely the recipients of His pity. We have been brought into the loving, privileged relationship of His fatherly love. Such a miracle could only happen because it was "according to his abundant mercy."

What a glorious hope we have through this marvelous relationship! Our first birth was disappointing. We were "dead in trespasses and sins . . . by nature the children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:1, 3)’ but now we are new creatures in Christ Jesus. Peter goes on to say that we have been begotten again "unto a lively [living] hope by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead."

The two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus on that memorable first day of the week after Jesus’ crucifixion were met by the Lord, though "their eyes were holden that they should not know him." They answered Jesus’ question, "What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another . . and are sad?" with the words, "Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?" Jesus said, "What things?" They replied, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth … our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death. … But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel" (Luke 24:16-21).

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