Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This Week From Grace Bible Fellowship

Praise the Lord!  We recently finished up 1 Timothy in our fellowship, and what a phenomenal walk through that text it was.  There was so much to be learned throughout, especially for a new local body of believers.  The Lord really used the exposition of that text to knit us closer together with one another, and Himself.  He is so gracious.  I mentioned on Twitter and Facebook a couple of weeks ago that I would begin to blog a few points from the sermon each week.  I thought this would be a good thing to do since we're starting a new book, 1 Peter, and I could start from sermon ONE.  
So, the first sermon has occurred, though I'm a bit late due to attending the Shepherd's Conference, and being unable to blog while there.  Speaking of the Shepherd's Conference, it was a life-changing event and I can certainly attribute my being there to the Providence of God on so many levels.  
Well, as expected, the first sermon from my Pastor, Mark Ragland, was rich.  What follows are a few points that I found both helpful and edifying from a great exposition of the first 2 verses.  

1 Peter 1:1-2- 1.Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
2. According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:  May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
The theme in this letter is "Cheer up, it gets worse!" 
I. The Introduction
    A.  The Writer-Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ.  Apostle from the Greek apo=away, and stolo=to send.  Special meaning ascribed to "apostle" by Jesus.  We see in Matthew 10:1 that Jesus gave His apostles special authority.  Therefore we only see "of Jesus" in the case of those who were especially appointed by Him.
    B.  Ther Recipients (1B)-Elect=Specifically chosen to be a particular part of the group.  Peter is reminding the exiles here *that their citizenship is heavenly not earthly.
Dia=among, Spora=scatter (John 7:35, James 1:1).  Some think this may be the Christian diaspora (dispersion) and not the Jewish diaspora (the day of Pentecost).  Scattered in: All of Asia Minor.  *Also reminding them that even in this dispersion and the persecution to come there is a plan.  This would serve well to encourage the recipients of Peter's letter.
II.  The Encouragement
    A. There is, indeed, a plan-Plan along the lines of Acts 2:23 (this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death)
Foreknowledge used in 1 Peter 1:2 and in the Acts text is intimate in nature.  Romans 8:29 (WHOM He foreknew), 1 Peter 1:20 (HE was foreknown) shows further that God foreknows PEOPLE as well as events. 
    B. There is a Process- Peter comforted the exiles by helping them understand that God was using this circumstance to sanctify them.  To grow them (as our circumstances are used in our lives) into the image of Christ (Romans 8:28, Philipians 1).  God is involved in a process that includes activity by all 3 members of the Trinity (Note the activity in verse 2).
Foreigner, exile, cut off and scattered from the world? There IS a plan and a process.
    C. There is a purpose-That you may obey Jesus Christ/in order that you may be sprinkled with His blood.  Ephesians 2:8,9  is a very familiar passage.  In light of this 1 Peter text, however, v.10 of Eph. 2 is important.  Every one of our circumstances is a golden opportunity to be conformed to the image of Christ in obedience, etc.  
Sprinkled with His blood?  What does that have in view?  Likely Old Testament imagery being used by Peter here.  There were 3 cases in the OT in which blood was sprinkled on a man.  
1. Entrance into the Aaronic priesthood
2. Purification rite for a leper being healed
3. Covenant initiation rite, after Moses received the law, confirming the Mosaic covenant.  Exodus 24:3-This is probably the imagery that Peter has in mind.  The children of Israel pledged at the initiation that they would do all that the Lord commanded.  Peter is trying to get the people to understand that they have pledged that they will submit to Jesus as Lord, and to walk in this obedience.  
D. There is an expressed wish-That is namely, more Grace from the Lord and the Peace that comes as a result of that Grace.
We'll pick up next week with the next few verses.  Stay tuned!