Summary: First message in an expositional series through 1 Peter
Text: 1 Peter 1:1-2, Title: The Definition of a Christian, Date/Place: LSCC, 4/24/05, AM
A. Opening illustration: They have a personal relationship with God, say their faith is very important in their life today; believe they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believe that Satan exists; believe that the eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and describe God as the all-knowing , all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today.
B. Background to passage: This is one of the greatest and most theologically rich greetings of any NT letter. We have no record of Peter or anyone else going to these areas. But if he did, He did it before 64 AD when he was martyred in Rome. Interestingly, this order of places would have been a travel route in the ancient world. Talk about the word “Dispersion” with no definite article. This letter is written mainly to gentiles in these northern reaches of Galatia who were suffering severely for their faith. Peter gives them great truths about how they should deal and live within this persecution.
C. Main thought: In our text we will see four aspects of the definition of a Christian
A. A sojourner in a strange land (v. 1)
1. This word is only used twice more in the NT, but the concept is prevalent. It can be translated stranger, pilgrim, foreigner, or sojourner. Word for “elect” actually in v. 1 following Peter’s calling for emphasis. Also translated “select transients.” Peter is reminding Christians that this world is not our home. We are bound for the Promised Land. That is our real home.
2. Eph 2:19, Heb 10:34, 11:13, Phil 3:20, 2 Cor 4:18, Col 3:1-2
3. Illustration: the Prime Minister of England and the bright young interviewer, “Christians are the elect of God and thus only temporarily resident in the present world…This makes their status as “resident aliens” so long as they remain in the world. Their existence receives its definition and direction from the future, not from the present, from God and not from the world. Yet for a time they are in the world and beset by its claims and contingencies, transitory as those are.” Letter: What is a Christian—illustration file.
4. Live life with an eternal perspective. Don’t be too concerned about temporary, worldly, material things. Don’t be too attached to them. People should be able to look at our life, and our priorities, and listen to our speech and know that we are heading somewhere beyond the grave, and our life is lived with that perspective. What we do here counts for all eternity.
B. A vessel chosen by the Father (v. 2)
1. The world here is eklektos, meaning chosen beforehand. It is interesting that Peter begins his letter to suffering gentile Christians by bringing up this doctrine. Peter says that is election was based in part on the foreknowledge of God. But this is not simply the fact that God selected those whom He knew would believe, but that He prearranged it, foreordained it, and brought it to pass, and knew them personally. This is at the center of a great debate. But Peter unashamedly throws it out first. God selected people from before the foundation of the world to be saved. He chose them as a special people to Himself, trophies of grace.
2. 1 Pet 1:20, John 15:6, Col 3:12, 2 Tim 1:9, Eph 1:4-5, 11-12, 1 Cor 1:29
3. Illustration: The elect are the whosoever wills, the non-elect are the whosoever won’ts. – Moody, adoption shows the grace involved in choice of individuals, “You have to celebrate your chosenness constantly. This means saying "thank you" to God for having chosen you, and "thank you" to all who remind you of your chosenness. Gratitude is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness that you are not an "accident," but a divine choice.”
4. The reason that this was comforting thought was three-fold. 1) It shows the absolute sovereignty of God in all things, especially salvation. This is crucial in crisis. 2) It directs the glory and boasting of salvation away from man and to God. 3) And it grounds the security of the believer into the character of God. You don’t have to worry about losing your salvation. Don’t let this doctrine bother you. Embrace truth because it is there. This doesn’t create an unfair, unloving, nor ungood God. Nor does it teach coercion of the will, nor absence of real meaningful choice. It champions the sovereignty of God, and does not cause Him to be dependent on mankind for His actions, and give Him all the credit for salvation.