What are your greatest fears? A few years ago in an adult Bible class, I asked that question as we prepared for a study of 1 Peter. The responses were revealing.
In this sermon deal with 1 Peter up to 2:11. The passage in 2:11-12 is often identified as the hinge in 1 Peter. But in one of my favorite outlines, the first chapter and a half are only one-third of the book. 1 Peter encourages first century Christians who have been scattered to the four winds because of their faith to stand firm in the true grace of God (5:12). These have been scattered, persecuted, and maligned. They, and we, must set our hopes on grace. In the grace of God is hope and encouragement for all who hurt. In the grace of God is the faith and hope that empowers genuine love.
The book does this by reminding the readers of their living hope based on what Christ has done, their strange life in the present world, and the difficulties which remain before them. One has called these the living hope through Christ's resurrection, our calm hope through submission, and our firm hope through faith. These might also be called informing, exhorting, and comforting. These are the grace to go on, to stand firm, and to rejoice. In our text is information for Christian living. So here we deal with only a part of the book, but it is the foundation.
What do you know? Can you see beyond the present? Do you know who you are? Whose you are? Why you are? Most Christians could benefit from a healthy dose of remembering what we know about ourselves. After, what we do is a result of what we think. Especially in our society, easy to so emphasize the doing that we forget the thinking. But beginning is in thinking correctly about ourselves. We will find insights and help in the first chapter and a half of 1 Peter.
Begin in 2:11ff. We are strangers and pilgrims (do word studies). This is the theory, but what is the practical implication?
I. WE RESTRAIN IMMORALITY IN A CORRUPT WORLD
We are called to holiness, to be like God, so set your hope on grace.
II. WE REMAIN TOGETHER IN A DIVISIVE WORLD
We are called to love, together, like-mindedness, set your affections on one another.
Faith and hope precede love, 1:21.
III. WE RETAIN IDENTITY IN A PAGAN WORLD--
BECAUSE OF WHO AND WHOSE WE ARE
Can we really expect to live in holiness, to be like God, and like Christ?
Therefore we live in this world as strangers and aliens, travelers in a strange world, not at home, foreign country, the language and customs are different than ours, and we do not share the culture.
This is a call to good living that is exemplary to others and glorifies God. This is the nature of the church, this is the calling of all who wear the name of Christ. No other option exists. No dual citizenship is allowed, nor desired. Christ is our all in all. He is enough. We are in the same house, temple, promise, covenant, power. We are his, and that awareness guides our every action and life decision. The challenges of the contemporary culture do not overwhelm us, we live a strange life here, confident that thereby we will be equipped for whatever the future may hold. Our faith is that of 1 Pet. 5:10-11. I pray it is your faith, I declare good news that it can be as you answer his call and find his virtuous righteousness declared yours in the obedience of faith, turning from this world, and dying to that world in baptism. Now is that opportunity.
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