Summary: Second in a patriotic sermon series.
In our passage for today, the apostle Peter writes about the hope that the Christian has to hold on to when facing the trials of life. Trials and troubles are inevitable in this world. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble," (John 16:33).
A gardener took great pride in caring for his lawn. But one year it was full of dandelions. He tried every method and product to get rid of them, but nothing worked. Exasperated, he wrote the Department of Agriculture explaining all he had done. "What shall I try next?" he wrote. "Try getting used to them," came the reply.
Yes, trials are a part of life and war is among the trials we will inevitably encounter. Again, Jesus told us that until He returns, there will be "wars and rumors of war," and that "nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom," (Matthew 24:6-7). So here we go again! We find that our nation is once again involved in war. Peter’s words can be particularly meaningful to us today, as we give thought to the hope we, as Christians, have to hold on to. Because of our hope in Christ, we can present a positive witness in this time of war as we remind ourselves that:
1. Our God has a personal interest in each of us - vs. 1-2
The people whom Peter addressed in this letter were strangers in a strange land, scattered throughout the Roman world. These believers were living in provinces spread across Asia Minor, in what in now northern Turkey. The main reason for these Jewish believers leaving Palestine was persecution (see Acts 8:1-4).
But not only were they strangers because they were living in a foreign country; they were also strangers in the world (as are we). The Christian’s true citizenship is in heaven. "For our citizenship is in heaven ..." (Philippians 3:20). These scattered Christians of Peter’s day were subject to the misunderstandings, threats, insults, persecution, and other abuses that a pagan culture often inflicts on followers of Christ.
But Peter gives words of encouragement to these believers who were finding themselves increasingly alone. He reminded them of God’s personal interest in each of us. This is something we need to be reminded of, too. God’s personal interest in each of us is revealed through:
A. The selection of the Father - v. 2 a
In verse 1, Peter refers to these believers as "God’s elect." This word means "chosen."
The doctrine of election is something we cannot fully understand. While it is true that God foreknew who would be saved before the world began, this does not mean that God favors some over others or that He makes it impossible for some to be saved. John 3:16 says, " . . whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Are you wondering how you can know if you are elect or not? Here’s the test. Everyone falls into one of two categories: the "whosoever wills" and the "whosoever wonts." We don’t need to worry about God’s part in salvation. All we need to be concerned with is whether or not we have trusted Christ. God gives the invitation for everyone to come to Him. Despite us not being able to comprehend this wonderful truth of God’s election, it is clear that God has an interest in each and every Christian. We were chosen according to the foreknowledge of God.
B. The sacrifice of the Son - v. 2c
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8).
Peter was writing primarily to Jews who had been brought up in Judaism. They knew the Old Testament, and they understood that the high priest on the Day of Atonement took blood with him when he went into the Holy of Holies, and that he sprinkled the blood seven times on the mercy seat.
Peter refers to the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, reminding these believers that our great high priest has presented a perfect sacrifice to the Father, whereby we might know forgiveness and be accepted in His sight! His sacrifice is a demonstration of His personal interest in each of us.
C. The sanctification of the Spirit - v. 2b
The word, "sanctify" literally means "to set apart" or "to make holy." God is not through with us once we are saved. The Holy Spirit performs the ministry of sanctification with the goal that every Christian will become mature. As Peter goes on to reveal, it is often through trials that God’s Spirit works to mature us and set us apart more and more to the Lord.
Vance Havner said, "God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to produce rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume... it is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever."