Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 7/19/2018
Mission Teens Drug Rehab Center in Norma, NJ -Evening Chapel Service on 7/21/2018
(edited November 2021)
[note: It may seem a little strange here that I was going through Peter’s Epistles backwards! But, remember, I wasn’t writing a book at the time or following any overall plan of organization. I used a lottery system (as I think I mentioned before) to select the Books of the Bible I would study next and, in this case, II Peter came up first, followed immediately by I Peter. Somehow the Lord used all these things and helped them to work out together for good as I went around speaking and sharing at that time. The Bible, it turns out, is GREAT even when read backwards!]
Verse 1: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,”
Peter was a man who had once tried to take up a sword and fight to put Jesus on an earthly throne in Jerusalem. But by the time he wrote this letter to the Church, he knew that Christ’s Kingdom was not of this world. And at this time in the New Testament era, believers in Jesus had been scattered from Palestine all the way to the area that we know today as Turkey. Peter “shared” the care and leadership duties for them all with the Apostle Paul. Peter knew his position as an Apostle of Jesus Christ but also respected Paul’s position of leadership, as he later would clearly state in his second letter to the Church (see II Peter chapter 3).
Verses 2-3: “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. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
To be saved is to be known of God and to know Him. By grace, through faith in Christ, we are “set apart” by the Holy Spirit and empowered to serve God by obeying His Word in a world that, generally, ignores the Word! And, Peter says here, we must identify our salvation directly with the blood Jesus shed for us on Calvary. Nothing was academic about this for Peter. He had witnessed the Passion Week events unfold before his own eyes and spoken with and touched the risen Christ! His hope and his faith were alive! No wonder God made him a leader. You can hear it in his words:
Verses 4-5: “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth 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.”
Believers are yet to see their eternal Home! That’s why Peter calls us “the strangers” back in verse 1. We have no physical Kingdom on the Earth at this time. No wonder the Church gets discouraged even to this day.
Verses 6-7: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”
Recently I was compelled to attend a workshop in order to continue serving in a prison ministry. The subject dealt with gang activity within and without the prison. It was pretty sobering. In a way, Peter is teaching that we, as believers, are in trouble right now because we are on enemy “turf.” So, sooner or later, a believer will be tested and harassed by God’s rivals in this world. Do you know what I’m saying? But, in the end our Leader, Jesus, will win the war.
Verses 8-9: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
Peter had a special faith. He had been at Christ’s side and seen miracles performed! Why, through faith, Peter could even do some those miracles (see Acts 9:32-43 if you don’t believe me!). But here we see that Peter also had a real appreciation for those of us who have received faith AFTER Jesus ascended back into Heaven and out of our physical sight.
Verses 10-12: “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
Peter was very aware of the Old Testament and of the great privilege and honor that was being bestowed on the New Testament Church.
Verses 13-16: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
But there is no time for the Church to pat itself on the back! No, Peter brings it all back to the moment in a very practical way: All believers must soberly and deliberately seek Holiness in their daily life! Do I ALWAYS do this? No, sorry to say, I know I don’t. So, Peter is preaching to ME now:
Verses 17-18: “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;”
Religion alone doesn’t cut it! That’s what Peter had found, as a Jew. It can’t get you through the real struggles that come along. By Peter’s time, the Old Covenant had degenerated into a religion mainly for the benefit of the powerful and wealthy. But our Heavenly Father, Peter says, allows no “line jumping” or VIP treatments when it comes to faith!
Jesus bled and died to cleanse and empower EVERYONE and ANYONE who would humble themselves and seek Him with their whole heart. Do you know Him, yet? In this way, I mean, personally?
Verse 19: “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”
Peter had seen it all and he allows for no lesser ways of salvation! Listen to how he speaks of Jesus:
Verses 20-21: “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”
Wow! Abraham, Job, King David, and others all had some concept of a Messiah to come who would deliver the world. BUT to our age alone has the Messiah been manifest in the flesh and made real and plane before us all. This is Peter’s testimony to us. It’s amazing, but he keeps it PRACTICAL too! Listen:
Verses 22-23: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
Only one response to Christ’s Love can please God. Not just love, but unfeigned Love, the REAL thing! Sometimes I try to fake loving the Lord and fake loving others. I’ve fooled some folks sometimes, too. Heck, I’ve even fooled myself sometimes, but I’ve never fooled God. Christ is worthy of ALL the Love I have in my heart and more. We are kidding ourselves when we think He will settle for less than that. But the really good news, especially for failures like me, is that He will supply all the strength we need to Love Him and to Love others if we ask for it. That’s what, I think, Jesus meant when He said:
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
He wasn’t talking about a mansion or a new car!
Verses 24-25: “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
This world, as attractive as it can be, and all the good things that God has put into this world for us to enjoy, none of that is for keeps! The real treasure here is to hold onto the Word of God and allow His Spirit to bear fruit in our lives down here.
We must live out God’s Word. I think we should close tonight by dipping our toes into the next chapter and letting Peter have the final say about this:
“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word,
that ye may grow thereby:” I Peter 2:1-2