October 24 2021

FREEDOM FROM FEARS

1 Peter 1:1-9

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: grace be unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and which fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein we greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold which perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”

Peter introduces himself in this his letter (epistle) to the Gentile believers (strangers) throughout what is present day Turkey, as an apostle of Jesus Christ. (see map).

The letter is addressed to those of the faith that have been scattered (sowed) – as the purpose of the Lord ordained.

These believers are called “elect” – by the foreknowledge of God the Father.

There is an order listed here for the elect.

  • Chosen
  • Foreknown
  • Consecrated (sanctified)
  • To obedience
  • Sprinkled

Romans 8:29 speaks to some of this.

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Now, what is this saying?

God the Father foreknew who among all of humanity would choose to believe Him, and therefore love Him and trust Him.

Let’s get a handle on the word “predestinate.” This word means the following: “to predetermine – to decide before hand.”

And the root words of predetermine carry the following meanings: “before,” and “to define – “to mark out the boundaries or limits, “to decree and appoint.”

So, what is this “before” word? Before what? The word predestinate carries an aspect of eternity in its meaning and usage. So “before” refers to before everything!

Before even time. Understand that time is not eternal. It hasn’t always been running! It is a created entity just as is matter, and space.

Contrary to the Gordon Lightfoot verse that states, “Time has no beginning and history has no bound” 1, time did indeed have a beginning.

Before there was anything of anything, GOD had each and every one of us pictured in His mind. Listen to Psalm 139:16 in the NIV:

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

We have been recorded in the “book of His mind” before time came into being.

He visualized every aspect and detail of our life before He put each of us together. He constructed each vessel to His good pleasure. He gave each yet unformed vessel the freedom of choice.

Animals do not possess this gift of choice. They are created to obey their specialized callings of His good pleasure. They are amazingly obedient to their ingrained “raison-d’etre.” No so we.

God dwells outside of His creation – outside of time. Scripture tells us that He is the One Who inhabits eternity.2

Thus, being outside of time and being fully aware of each minutia of detail of each of His vessels, He is able to “foresee” each and every action each vessel will take.

So, from our 1 Peter verse we learn that He foreknew His elect – believers in Him.

This does not imply that He orchestrated or compelled any one vessel to behave in any certain way. The gift of choice is with no strings.

From His vantage point He knows those who will choose Jesus.

Also, from His unique point of view it can be said that He has “chosen us,” not in the context of choosing those to be saved, no, but choosing those saved-ones that are to be consecrated or sanctified into the image of His Son!

That’s what is predestined – that once we chose His salvation we are then predestined to be sanctified.

The Peter Scripture goes on to say that we are called into obedience as part of our sanctification and this is accomplished by the “sprinkling” of the blood of Jesus.

This is exactly the meaning of our verse from Romans 8:29.

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

For whom he did foreknow – those of us who would choose His salvation, He therefore predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. And this is accomplished by our being sprinkled with the blood of Christ!

And it is Jesus Who becomes the firstborn among many brethren. The Firstborn of the resurrection to life everlasting.

1 Peter 1 goes on to say,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”

The Father has begotten us again. What does this imply?

Listen to John 1:12:

“But as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become sons of God, even to them that believe upon His name: which are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

As Jesus reminds us later in John, one must be born again to “be saved.” There’s an old phrase that rings absolutely true: “if you are only born once you die twice; born twice and you die but once.”

Our Peter reference goes on to say that we have been born again “unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

This is partly true because, as John puts it, “in Him was life and the life was the light of men.”

We don’t worship some dead saviour as do all other religions. We worship the One true God who is alive forevermore. He is our lively hope spoken of here by Peter. An ever-living hope – lively.

And a Peter continues to tell us we are “we are being sanctified by the Spirit unto obedience of Jesus Christ,” rather than trying, as so many others try, to be obedient to a set of principles that are basically impossible to maintain.

The Spirit of God is involved in our process of sanctification and is activated by our being sprinkled with the blood of Christ. That is, our acceptance (choice to accept His finished work), foreseen by the Father, is due to the atoning blood of Christ which is seen as sprinkling believers as an “admittance action” into the kingdom of God.

This admittance into the family of God the Father allows the believer to gain access to the multiplication in our lives of the grace and mercy of God.

Besides the benefits of multiplied mercy and grace into our lives we have also been granted an inheritance. One that is incorruptible and undefiled!

The reader should be reminded of our Lord’s words given in Matthew 6:19-20.

“Lay not up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt and where thieves do not break through to steal.”

There are treasures laid up for each of us in heaven, and these are guarded and kept safe from corruption. And one of these treasures is our new resurrected bodies likened unto His.

We know this to be true with a correct understanding of our Peter passage.

Follow His message to us.

  • We have been begotten unto a lively hope – a hope that is ever living.
  • Which has been obtained for us by His resurrection – the First-fruit of the resurrection.
  • The first-fruit implies following fruits which is us, as we “imitate” His resurrection in our own bodies.
  • This lively hope, our new bodies, is the principle inheritance that is given us.
  • And it is this inheritance that is reserved for us in heaven and is being kept by the power of God.
  • And this “inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and which fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation,” stands ready to be revealed in the last time.

Paul had much detail concerning this inheritance in 1 Corinthians 15.

Having this knowledge should we believers not greatly rejoice as Peter urges.

And Peter goes on to remind us all, that there may be cause or a need of heaven to permit us to suffer for this small season of our eternal existence, what of it? Listen to his words here.

“Wherein we greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:”

I have underlined the phrase “if need be.” Heaven, The Father, has a unique viewpoint as we have said.

He, as potter, knows each of His vessels, for He created each vessel for His good pleasure and purpose.

Paul too talked of this in 1 Corinthians 1: 27-29.

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty; and the base things of the world, and the things which are despised, has God chosen, yea, and things which are not to bring to nought the things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.”

What is Paul saying, and what is Peter suggesting?

In His foreknowledge, God walks his warehouse of vessels, those who someday in some time will acknowledge Him and call out to be saved, and in His grace and with all of heaven’s mercy, places His hand upon each one.

And He asks each earthen vessel, “Will you?” “Will you, in spite of whatever may come, allow Me to use you?”

And our answers echo down through the ages, “yes, choose me.” Though our voices have yet to be formed, our answers ring true in His ears.

He puts His hands to work and forms vessels of many types. Some strong, some beautiful, some humble, some in constant pain, some bearing sorrows that indeed seem unbearable, each fashioned for His good pleasure and for our ultimate unspeakable reward.

You see, Peter is explaining to us that far before there was any part of us, God had foreknowledge of us, of each of us. That He knew what our choice would be – that we would choose Him and therefore He would choose us.

He decided how best to use each of us to take His salvation to the ends of the earth; how each talent and gift could be best used to fulfil our mission.

How best to reach into each dark, deceived life with the light of His salvation.

How best to sympathise with each twisted body; how best to quiet each hatful spirit; how to reach the diseased, the misguided and the prideful.

I am reminded of the schoolyard games we used to play. A captain would be selected and he/she would choose their team. And we all would be lined up, waving our arms wildly, “choose me, choose me!” we would cry.

It would be to our utter shame and disappointment should we not be chosen.

I may be told to “play goal” which I deemed the worst position but better to play goal than to stand un-called on the sideline.

Once we choose to lineup and play, the position we were assigned was beyond our control. All we could control as our response to the question, “do you want to play?”

So too, here within God’s warehouse of vessels we are asked, ”Will you accept your position on My team? Will you allow Me to choose your position – understanding how very much I care for you?  And when we replied ages later, “yes Lord I receive You,” our control was passed to Him.

We may be asked to play a position not to our liking. What of it – we are in the “game.” And O what a game, and O what a reward awaits us and O what victory is ours.

So as the Good Potter takes each vessel lovingly down from the shelf of His warehouse and prepares to send it into this world, to a specific people group, to a specific time, to a specific family He applies His finishing touches.

He assigns some for pain, some for sorrow, some for betrayal and equips each as an ambassador to those in pain, to those in sorrow and to those who have suffered betrayal.

And if one must suffer for a season, at heaven’s need, what of it?  You may be in heaviness of manifold temptations but know for a certainty that God is using these very things in you to reach others of similar ilk.

And also, praise His name, He is using these very things you struggle with, in this season, to conform you to the image of His Son.

And, your faith in Him is being tested – is being given an opportunity – to shine. To shine like pure gold tried in the fire of difficulty and persecution.

And this victory over these trials brings glory and honour and praise to the One Whom you chose and Who has now chosen you.

I quoted Romans 8:29 earlier.

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Do you recall the verse that precedes this? Most only quote the first half of the verse. Here it is in full.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.”

Here we have our summary. We love God, that is, we choose Him; He then calls us through His foreknowledge and works all situations for our benefit as we fulfil His purpose in us as His vessels.

May God richly bless you, Amen.

Gordon Lightfoot Canadian Railroad Trilogy

2 Isaiah 57:15

 

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