Exile Hope (6-27-15)
Grab your Bible and let’s go deeper into 1 Peter 1:
1 Peter 1:1-2 “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.”
1> Who are the elect exiles?
Peter opens his letter by referring to his audience as elect exiles.
First Peter was written to Christians who were experiencing various forms of persecution. Both men and women whose stand for Jesus Christ made them aliens or exile strangers in the midst of a pagan society. Let’s look into this deeper…
1 Peter 1:1 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles …”,
then notice in verse 2 that He qualifies those who are chosen or elect with three phrases:
-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.
Do you notice that they are elect by the work of the Trinity?
The elect are chosen by God the Father through God the Holy Spirit based on the atoning work of God the Son.
This is a meaty endorsement for Peter’s audience and for us who are the body of Christ today!
This is also an important clarity at the opening because Peter wants to lay a strong foundation in the hearts of his Christian brothers and sisters who read this as He is about to talk about all the trials they are and will experience. He is putting it in their minds that they are special because they are chosen by God.
It’s like he is saying, remember how significant it was when God came to Israel and said, you will be my people? How significant it was when he came to Moses and said, you are my chosen man, my chosen mouth piece? Like when he came to Abraham and said, you are my chosen patriarch. It’s like he is saying, you are a part of that special election now.
This is special! It is special because not all are chosen. Just look at…
Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
So Peter is saying in just a few short phrases right out the door, you are special too. As you endure hardship in this foreign land, know that you are God’s chosen people. You are elect! So, as I get ready to talk to you in this letter about hardship and obedience know that you are not a mistake. You are the LORD’S chosen.
You are not His by obligation nor by your merit, but solely by His predetermined plan and sovereign free will to choose whom He will.
He wants them not to wonder if their exile is all for not. He wants them to understand in the deepest part of their mind and heart that they are His. They are selected, secure and sent forth for his purposes.
He calls the church elect exiles. Other translations say aliens.
What do you think of when you think of aliens? Big-headed, green creatures or people who are of a foreign land or kingdom. I’ll give you a hint- it’s not the former! It’s not the green creatures.
Christian exiles are like immigrants, foreigners, temporary residents, and refugees. We do not belong any longer to this world. Hebrews 13:14 “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”
We are still aliens and exiles and sojourners.
You could say it like this…
We are citizens of God’s eternal kingdom while exile residents in this world’s temporal kingdom.
Do you know that in your soul?
Do you know that you, too, are an exile and sojourner in this time and place?
If not, this world makes no sense. Because to build your LIFE in the here and now is to not understand the hope that brings endurance in anticipation for your true HOME.
Brothers: THIS IS NOT OUR HOME!
And because we are aliens here, because we are exiles in a foreign land, we should expect troubles and suffering.
1 Peter 4:12- “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”
But, instead, we need to hold to the truth the apostle Paul gives us “…the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…” (Romans 8:18). This is what Peter is going to say all throughout this letter.
2> What is our living hope?
1 Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
He says, “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again”.
Once again, Peter says that it is God who is sovereign in our salvation.
Meaning, it is his work. He is in control. He is the author and perfecter of our faith as Hebrews 12 describes.
Our salvation is “ACCORDING TO THE MERCY OR GRACE OF GOD ALONE”, not according to anything we offer, contribute, do, say, believe, or earn. According to his mercy alone!
”Unwarranted confidence in human ability is a product of fallen human nature. This false confidence now fills the evangelical world; from the self-esteem gospel, to the health and wealth gospel, from those who have transformed the gospel into a product to be sold and sinners into consumers who want to buy.” – The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals; 1996
Deep down, human nature is convinced that there is a way for us to save ourselves or at least play our part.
Too many believe, while we may require divine assistance, perhaps God will show us the way, or even send a messenger to lead us back, but, in the end, mankind can follow the plan and/or do their part to pull it off.
In a democratic culture such as ours, we believe that our vote counts, and that by exercising our right to choose, we can actually and significantly change the world around us. We are all taught from our youth that we have it within ourselves to accomplish anything if we simply put our minds to it and give it our best efforts.
But, not according to God’s Word. All we offer, all we contribute is sin. We are in pursuit of selfishness and no help at all. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all…” – John 6:63
We are desperate for God’s mercy to take what is spiritually dead and give it life!
Who has caused us to be born again? God.
No one takes credit for his or her own physical birth!
The baby never comes out of the womb and says, “Glad I could help”.
Our birth is something that happens TO us.
For those whom God causes to be born again, it is the same thing.
John 3:3 “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”
John 1:13 “…who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
This is the sovereign act of God to bring about new spiritual life to that which was formerly spiritually dead.
The prophecy of Ezekiel says it well,
Ezekiel 36:26 “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
Regeneration is a sovereign act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us.
This is sometimes called “being born again”.
No one repents of their sin and believes in Jesus for conversion (salvation) until God does this in your heart.
Why? Because we don’t even see our sin. And we don’t yet have eyes to see and savor the cross and Jesus’ atonement yet. Not until the heart is reborn by God’s work.
Once brought to life, the new heart always responds to God’s saving grace in repentance and belief!
This is great news! This is THE GOOD NEWS! This is what Peter is highlighting-
that God acts according to his great mercy and causes new birth in dead and condemned hearts.
We are pitiful exiles in this land of our own understanding and we cling to the sovereign work of God to save us and set us on his path of service. This is made light of or misunderstood.
So, Peter has said, God is due, “all praise and blessing”! Because of his great mercy which caused his elect to be born again, we are reborn unto new life in Christ. We are spiritually made alive.
The question that comes next is: What are we born to? 1 Peter 1:3c “…to a living hope through… “
Let’s break this down…
- HOPE: First, what is the HOPE?
The definition of hope is 2 parts….
1• a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen (hope for this or that to happen).
2• a person or thing that may help or save someone (hope in something or someone).
So, there are two ways to look at hope…
- What we hope for… 2. What we hope in…
What or who do you hope in?
When you wake up in the morning, hope is what makes you do something. It’s what motivates us to live! If there is no hope, why live? Why endure the hardships of this exile life?
Psalm 146:5 “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,”
We must hope in Jesus! When we encounter hardship and our hope is in Christ we are not dashed in despair!
If we are going to endure the hardship we face, we must not lose HOPE! We need living hope.
Have you been losing hope as the hardships come at you and things continue to not go your way?
Hear Peter’s words! Listen to these truths!
Let them be like firm ground under your feet after being lost at sea for months.
Why is it significant that our HOPE is living? What is this hope based on?
1 Peter 1:3 “…to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
It is genuine and vital HOPE in contrast to being empty and vain HOPE.
It is based on the perfect, sovereign work of God’s election, regeneration and conversion.
Peter has laid the ground work- the base. This hope is not baseless superstition contrived in the hearts of folly men.
It is built on the work and the security of God.
But, he takes it farther here, saying it is living because Christ is LIVING! We trust in a resurrected Savior- not a long dead and gone messiah like all the man-made religions of this world.
1 Corinthians 15:17-19 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
If Jesus did not rise from the grave- if he was not the first born of all God would redeem- then we have NO HOPE!
Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness!
This a great lyric of old! Why? Because it is our battle cry. It is our wake up alarm in the morning to get up and do another day. Because our hope in the resurrected Jesus is living. It is not dead!
Our HOPE is LIVING! It is active. It is thriving in the fertile soil of Jesus’ victory.
Remember: Jesus’ victory is not just a victory over death. It is a victory over all this momentary suffering. This is the basis of our living hope in the midst of the suffering and struggle of our exile.
We endure persecution, struggle, suffering, loss and even death because we know that we are secure. We are not losable, we are bound, and we are cemented in the resurrection of Jesus!
The victory of our bloodied champion who is the first born of God’s redeemed family. The one who claimed our victory.
Peter is reminding the elect exiles that whatever you encounter in this world, it is trivial compared to the blessing of the future resurrection.
PETER SAYS IN THE REST OF VERSE 4 & 5 THAT OUR “inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
THIS IS WHY WE ENDURE HARDSHIP IN OUR EXILE:
BECAUSE WE ARE CHOSEN BY GOD AND GROUNDED IN A LIVING HOPE THAT IS SECURE BY GOD’S POWER.
SOLDIERS: HOPE IN GOD as you face hardship and suffering in this exile!
Hope in our bloodied champion as you bleed.
Hope in the power of the resurrection of Jesus as this body is failing you.
May your LIVING HOPE in Christ cause you to LIVE IN HOPE!
“Christ in you the HOPE of Glory” -COLOSSIANS 1:27
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC