I may not know you, but God does.
A word study or perhaps I should say a look at the letters of the Apostle Peter.
1 Peter 1:1,2
This will be a series, apparently.
Often my writings are based upon some recent sermon or a conversation that has evoked some reaction in me. Not having any recent ammo, I decided it is time to start reading through some of these letters to believers, we refer to as books of the bible. I happen to be looking at Peter, and as my habit I slowly ponder just about everything I read. So here goes.
Image via Wikipedia1Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
Immediately I am struck by the word strangers. It seems that so many of these new testament letters we read were written to a body that the writer had contact with at some point. Peter seemed to know that this letter would be distributed to people he would never know or meet, and I think it conveys the sense that it needed to be.
To be scattered implies a couple of things to me.
- They have run for their lives or,
- the gospel is spreading.
No doubt both are happening.
The Apostle Paul moved on from towns where he experienced tremendous persecution on several occasions, and he was run out of town as well. There is a piece of me that thinks you are supposed to stand there and take whatever abuse they dish out, as a testimony about the God you serve.
(I honestly believe that many of my broken ideas about how life is supposed to operate come from the “religious” ideals of my mother. An example of that is turning the other cheek. I was punished for attempts at defending myself. If mother had had her way you would stand there and let someone slap you until you are spinning like a top. The illogical aspect of that might be seen in sending service men to war with no bullets, better yet, no guns, as god would not want you to fight back, because it might have been god's will that you get your face punched in so he could teach you something. Do you know what that creates? Angry monsters.)
You have no idea how bitter life was as a child, nor, unless I tell you, do know what kind of damage religiosity did to me. I know that Jesus gave the command to: Mark 16:15 MKJV ..”Go into all the world, proclaim the gospel to all the creation.” I tried that when I was younger, but I was shy and fearful of the world.
On one occasion our little youth group, of which I never fit in, went knocking on neighborhood doors, trying to “win the lost”. A hippie answered (that is what we called anyone with long hair back then), and he politely turned us away. That youth group, because of his rejection, acosted him with loud rants of “you are going to hell”. This all seem to happen fairly guick and I just stood there saying nothing, intimidated. Those that I had deemed cool and previously wanted to be like, all walked off the porch and he turned, now looking at me. All that came out of me was, “I am so sorry.” I am positive now that Jesus would not have done that.
If you think you are seeing Jesus get angry with people in scripture pay attention to who he is angry with; it is always religious people that think they know everything and really have no place for God or humility. Why would I include the word humility in that? Because the opposite, pride, will not step out of the way and give God his say or control. Jesus stood before learned men. They knew the law, but then so did He; he spoke it into existence. They may have known the law, but they did not know God. He was standing right in front of them.
I get excited about the God I have come to know and I probably project my form of excitement toward those that I get a chance to talk with. I desire to get those that will listen to me excited too. So I am fairly disappointed when Christians have no desire to talk about the living God. There is a young man at work that coming into my department saw little more than me reacting to the barrage of stress that I feel I deal with on a daily basis. He commented to me one day, “I never would have guessed that you were a Christian.” Well I am, and now that we have this understanding of who we might be, I, thinking that I have someone that I can now talk to about things of God get disheartened and baffled when he shows no interest. My girlfriend says, it's just you and your style of speaking.
Do you not realize that who you are today is the result of yesterday's life experiences. God knows that. He knew that before he made the world, brought you salvation, and sent his son to die for you. If someone thinks that you are unacceptable, they will be judged for that, but God is not judging you, he is the one that actually loves you. Beside that, God has just the right niche for you to fill. Your personality is the perfect match to reach someone that I cannot. God knows exactly what he is doing, regardless of what someone thinks about you.
1 Samuel 16:7 GNB But the LORD said ... I do not judge as people judge. They look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart."
1 Peter 1:2
I am going to give a couple of versions of this. 1. Because some might read the terminology and say, “that is not me he is talking to.” and 2. I want this to make sense to you.
1 Peter 1:2 KJV Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
1 Peter 1:2 CEV God the Father decided to choose you as his people, and his Spirit has made you holy. You have obeyed Jesus Christ and are sprinkled with his blood. I pray that God will be kind to you and will keep on giving you peace!
1 Peter 1:2 NIV (the strangers scattered) who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. [Italics mine]
I have been using the King James Version lately because this particular bible has a tremendous amount of cross references that I find beneficial. In reading out of the KJV I am particularly aware of the word elect in verse two. I try to keep in mind that even though a word may strike me odd and may make sense standing alone, it is typically part of an entire thought, and often easily explained in light of the overall point the writer was making.
Learning is a daily process, and if you are honest you will agree that you are never done. I learn more of Him everyday, and that brings me great joy. The last thing I desire is for you hit a roadblock that causes you to stumble. Why would you stumble at something that brings your freedom? Because, think about our previous conversation in which I mentioned those aspects that made you respond to life the way you do. I hit words like elect and it causes me to throw the brakes on. I wanted to talk about this reaction for a moment.
I spent a tremendous amount of time growing up inside a church building. That is not necessarily a bad thing; I have the prophet Samuel, whom I just love, as an example of someone who spent their life growing up inside the temple. (Who couldn't love a godly man that could swing a sword.) Sadly though, church also had it's share of mean people, and they seriously scarred me. Add to that the teachings I encountered, later on in life, in which they conveyed that God demonstrates his love based upon how much money you have. Oh brother!
The most powerful woman that I ever heard of sits upon a grass mat, gathers enough sticks each day to sell a few, buy a handful of rice to cook and eat, and knows, with confidence, that God is more than enough. I am in awe of her, for she is the elect that Peter speaks of.
I submitted other versions because in a sense each one of these conveys this message. It is not about what you think you are, but about what God has made you to be, His son. You see, whether you know it or not God chose you.
“..through the sanctification of the spirit.”
Peter explained this himself, but studying these concepts out can do you a world of good. These elect, are elect not because of noble birth, the amount of money they have, or election by popular vote, but because God chose them. There was nothing special about them that is any better that you. The apostle Paul in the eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans tells us this. Paul also said in Romans 5:8 .. “that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” God put himself upon that cross at a time when there was NO ONE worthy. We are all on the same playing field.
Sanctification was terminology used primarily of objects used in the temple worship (in the desert journey it was an elaborate tent setup), and meant those things that were specifically set aside for Godly usage (cups, bowls, tables, etc.). This sanctification (To be specifically set apart through appropriate actions, for a Godly purpose) happened through a process of cleansing, which included the sprinkling of the blood of the slain, sacrificial lamb, the only thing that could remove sin. Jesus became that lamb, just for us. Therefore God, through the voluntary actions of Jesus, has done just that for and with us. He has cleansed us, and set us apart for the purpose of restoring relationship with us.
I hope you get it. God wanted someone to share his life with and made the earth and the glory of it all, to demonstrate his love. Therefore we can come to know and understand that there really is a hope and a future with the creator.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I did not want to over simplify sanctification but you have the essentials before you here. Part of this process of sanctification conveys an obedience. The priests, walking around in the desert, had to be obedient to instructions and so did Jesus. Look at these passages in the letter to the Hebrews with me.
Hebrews 9:11-14 NIV But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle (some versions say tent) that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. (12) He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. (13) The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. (14) How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:21-23 NIV In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. (22) In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (23) It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
You really need to invest some time reading the ninth chapter of the book of Hebrews. God is telling you precisely what Jesus did on our behalf, how God now sees us, and why.
If Jesus had not been obedient, this place would be just as in the days of Noah (read Jesus comment in Matthew 24). When God destroyed the earth the thoughts and intent of man's heart was only evil, and the earth was filled with violence. This scenario is like a bad scene from your worst nightmare. Only now we all have nuclear weapons. Those that survive a nuclear war will little left usable to enjoy. Fortunately, WE HAVE A HOPE and He has a name.