Finding Perspective from 1 Peter
1 Peter 1:1–2 – Perspective: Sermon Series on 1 Peter – December 5, 2021
Reading 1 Peter 1:1–9.
Shai Linne is an African-American Christian rapper from southwest Philly.
- He and his sister grew up in a single-parent home and both were born out of wedlock.
- His mom had a Christian background but didn’t raise them with any kind of Christian influence.
- He was drawn to hip-hop and especially what he called “conscious” hip-hop, hip-hop that was lyrically rich but also socially conscious.
- Shai Linne said that by his college days he had cultivated what he calls a “salad bar theology.”
- Picking and choosing from any number of influences to create some kind of worldview and perspective on people and life and right and wrong.
He ended up dropping out of college and trying to start a theater company.
- Eventually he moved to a “small city in the deep South” (he doesn’t say where in his book).
- Someone started to share Christ with him but he rejected it.
- He rejected the Bible but had never read it.
- At some point when his life wasn’t going well at all he thought he shouldn’t reject the Bible without reading it.
- So he opened it up to the middle and started to read.
By this point his mom had become a Christian and sent him the gospel of John.
- He read it and everything changed.
- The Jesus he encountered there wasn’t the Jesus he expected.
- He gave his life to Christ in January 1999.
Over time he went from a “salad bar theology” to a true theology.
- Becoming a Christian changed his perspective on just about everything.
- He went from basically making it up as he went along to being guided by God’s Word rightly interpreted.
- In his book, The New Reformation, he unpacks a perspective on “ethnic unity” that’s clearly informed by God’s Word.
- And in his chapter called, “Is Martin Luther My Homeboy?” he unpacks that salvation is sola gratia, by grace alone. We’re saved by faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone.
Truth about salvation doesn’t come through anyone’s “salad bar theology.” Truth about anything doesn’t come through anyone’s “salad bar theology.”
To have the right perspective on this world and God himself we have to be guided by God’s Word.
1st Sunday of the sermon series: Perspective.
2nd Sunday of Advent.
Getting acclimated to 1 Peter:
- By Peter the apostle—famous for betraying Jesus three times.
- But then after being filled with the Spirit preaching the Pentecost sermon.
- Leads the first church, planted in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost.
- Makes the great confession in the gospels that Jesus is the Christ.
- Then Jesus to Peter: “On this rock I will build my church. And the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18).
- Not just Peter the man, not just his confession.
- Peter + the confession = foundation of early church and the church.
- Last year we looked at the gospel of Mark—Peter’s story through Mark.
- Peter’s letter the “So what?” to his story of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark.
- In a similar way, it’s Peter’s thinking through Silvanus (1 Peter 5:12).
- Written from ROME (“Babylon,” 5:13).
- Written as a LETTER.
- But a LETTER also God’s Word for God’s people in every generation.
- Like most letters: Greeting (1:1–2), Body (1:3–5:11), Close (5:12–14).
- His greeting is two short verses, but they’re a powerful opening.
Our two points: (1) Perspective on Our Place in the World; (2) Perspective on Our Identity in Christ
I. Perspective on Our Place in the World
Let’s look at 1:1–2 again. We’ll focus first on this idea of being “exiles of the Dispersion.”
Different ways to become an “exile.”
Book of Daniel this fall—Daniel called “one of the exiles” (Daniel 2:25; 5:13; 6:13). Part of a forced exile. Taken to a land that wasn’t his home to live among a people that were not his people.
Or William Tyndale who left England and became an exile in Germany—because he was on the run from the English crown. For the crime of translating the Bible into a language the people of England could understand. He can’t go home.
The key part of the word in Greek is that you’re a foreigner. Living in a place not your home.
Some translate it with “sojourner.” You’re a pilgrim. It’s Abraham being called to leave his homeland and go to the land God would show him. A new place. It would become his home. But it didn’t start out that way.
Being a foreigner is being in an unpredictable situation.
- At any minute your situation could change.
- The government might decide that people like you are a threat.
- Governments are not always just when they take these actions.
- In WWII the Japanese in America were placed in internment camps, because they were perceived as a threat.
- Many cases of injustice.
Christians at the time of Peter would soon face this.
- This instability would prove very true just after Peter’s letter.
- Soon there would be persecution by the emperor Nero.
- Many Christians would lose their lives.
- Peter and Paul would both die at the hands of Nero.
- These persecutions were not empire wide. Take place at specific times and places. But if you were there at the time it was horrible.
We, too, are exiles. Living in a place that’s not our home.
We’re also “exiles of the Dispersion.”
- Peter mentions several regions in Asia Minor, modern Turkey.
- The Dispersion was a Jewish word that referred to Jews living in the Roman Empire but outside of Israel.
- They were “dispersed.”
We know he’s not referring to racial Jews when he writes. Clues are in passages like 1:18:
“You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers” (1 Peter 1:18).
Peter wouldn’t refer to converted Jews as coming out of “futile ways inherited from your forefathers.” This verse and others make more sense if Peter is writing to a church that is predominantly non-Jews, Gentiles.
We are dispersed, but not just because we live outside of Israel. We’re dispersed because we’re a scattered chuch. Spread across the globe in all kinds of lands. All kinds of cultures.
We gather on the Lord’s Day in local churches, but Christ’s church is all true believers in all those local churches.
Being part of the Dispersion speaks to not being home. Not only are we dispersed throughout the world, but we’re not home.
Like the author of Hebrews says:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:13–16)
Application: Perspective on our place in the world.
- Living in a place that’s NOT OUR HOME.
- Among a people that’s NOT OUR PEOPLE.
- But—we have a HOME.
- We have a PEOPLE.
II. Perspective on Our Identity in Christ
And now verse 2. Right off the bat Peter begins to encourage us about our identity.
Writing to these former Gentiles whose lives weren’t pretty. Maybe wondering if they truly belonged.
“Imposter syndrome”—all these other people belong here but not me.
He makes it very clear, they belong. Their presence in the church was something an eternity in the making.
We can struggle with these things, too.
- Understanding our salvation affects how we see ourselves.
- We need to see ourselves in light of what God has done for us.
- Sometimes people talk about “ACCIDENTAL PREGNANCIES.”
- Which lead to unexpected children.
- But there are NO ACCIDENTAL CHRISTIANS.
- We’re here because the God of the universe planned for us to be here.
- God as Father, Son, and Spirit actively, intentionally worked for us to be his.
Let’s see what Peter tells us about how we got to be God’s people.
FIRST, “ELECT exiles.” Word “elect” here means “chosen.” Used 22x in the NT. Every time refers to God’s people who are “chosen.”
- Idea is that from the sea of humanity God chose some to be his own.
- And the ones he chose became his.
- John 15:19 and Eph 1:4:
“Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (Eph 1:4)
SECOND, this was “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1:2).
- Each person of the Trinity mentioned.
- The Father “FOREKNEW” us.
- Foreknow sounds like knowing something before it happens.
- But this isn’t a word simply describing God’s knowledge of things.
- He’s omniscient! But this is more.
- Foreknowledge is more powerful than that.
- Romans 8:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom 8:29–30)
- This is the “golden chain” of our salvation—one link leads to the next.
- The end = “GLORIFIED.” The beginning = “FOREKNEW.”
- “Foreknowing” is really like “fore-loving.”
- God doesn’t just know about us ahead of time, but he sets his love upon us in a special saving way.
A powerful new IDENTITY for these converted Christians.
- No 2nd-class Christians. Only God’s people!
- Ed Clowney
These Christian Gentiles are God’s chosen people because he has known them from all eternity. Jesus Christ was foreknown by the Father before the world was created (1 Peter 1:20). The chosen people of Christ are also foreknown by the Father. Their inclusion in the people of God is no accident, no afterthought, but God’s purpose from the beginning.
Those who are foreknown by God are foreknown in and with Christ. The expression foreknowledge does not mean that God had information in advance about Christ, or about his elect. Rather it means that both Christ and his people were the objects of God’s loving concern from all eternity.
Ed Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter
THIRD, “BY (better) the sanctification of the Spirit.”
- “Sanctification” has to do with being ‘set apart.’
- Like OT priests, items in temple, nation as a whole.
- Why at Mt. Sinai Israel was called a “holy nation” (Exod 19:6)—1 Peter 2:9!
- God purposed to save us (foreknowledge).
- Then the Spirit set us apart.
- Has to do with our conversion.
- The Father PLANS, the Spirit APPLIES.
FOURTH, the Son gets involved, too!
- We were chosen FOR something, and that’s in Verse 2.
- We are chosen “for obedience” and “for sprinkling with his blood.”
- Chosen “for obedience” means obedience non-negotiable. Essential.
- Not optional.
- Peter’s letter will make this very clear.
- He calls us to obedience, gives reason after reason why to obey.
But what does it mean to be chosen “for sprinkling with his blood”?
- Best understanding is to remember Mt. Sinai when Israel and Moses were there (Exod 19–24, esp 24:1–8).
- God made a covenant with Israel.
- He set them apart as a nation.
- Called them to live in a new way as a people.
- He established a covenant—a binding commitment that “defined the relationship” (DTR).
- The author of Hebrews tells us that when that covenant was made “Moses” “sprinkled both the book itself and all the people” (Hebrews 9:19).
- But then Jesus offered his own blood to establish a new covenant.
- At the last supper Jesus said, “This is my blood of the new covenant.”
- He meant that by offering his blood he was establishing the new covenant.
- Chosen for “sprinkling” = chosen for new covenant blessings.
- Foremost of these? Forgiveness of sins (Heb 8; 10:1–25).
Isn’t this amazing?
- We’re chosen for obedience but God has already made provision for our failures of obedience.
- Being a Christian isn’t having a license to sin, a free pass to run out and live however we want.
- But it is having a remedy when we do sin.
That’s why Peter can end his greeting with a prayer-wish “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
- He doesn’t say here, “IF YOU DESERVE IT.”
- Of course we don’t deserve it.
- We receive “GRACE AND PEACE” because God has chosen us for it.
- Because Christ shed his blood for us to receive it.
- Because the Holy Spirit has set us apart for it.
- We could never earn God’s “grace and peace.”
- Never truly deserve it.
- But it’s ours as a gift of his mercy!
Application: Perspective on our identity in Christ.
- Understanding salvation informs our identity.
- Knowing WHOSE I am affects WHO I AM.
- Knowing WHY I am his affects how I live.
- Shai Linne and I come from very different backgrounds.
- He’s a black rapper from southeast Philly who grew up with a lot of challenges.
- I’m a white man who grew up with two loving parents in the suburbs of Atlanta.
- But then…God saved us.
- Shai Linne in March 1999. Me in January 1990.
- We have a common salvation.
- We are still white and black.
- But there’s something far more important that’s true of us.
- We’re ELECT EXILES FOREKNOWN FROM BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, SET APART BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, SPRINKLED BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS, CALLED TO OBEY THE SAME WORD OF GOD.
- What’s true of us is far, far, far greater than what’s different between us.
The greeting from 1 Peter gives:
- Perspective on our Place in the World—we’re destined for a homeland.
- Perspective on our Identity in Christ—we’re his because of his eternal plan.
- Read 1 Peter
- Consider memorizing it—or at least some passages from it
- Ed Clowney’s commentary, The Message of 1 Peter, from the Bible Speaks Today series.
- Shai Linne’s A New Reformation: Finding Hope in the Fight for Ethnic Unity
Wayne Grudem on being “chosen sojourners”:
The phrase ‘chosen sojourners’ thus becomes a two-word sermon for us, Peter’s readers: We are ‘sojourners,’ not in an earthly sense (for many no doubt had lived in one city their whole lives), but spiritually: our true homeland is heaven (Phil 3:20) and any earthly residence therefore temporary.
Yet we are ‘chosen’ sojourners, ones whom the King of the universe has chosen to be his own people, to benefit from his protection, and to inhabit his heavenly kingdom.
Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter
Prayer and closing song
 This is all taken from his book, The New Reformation: Finding Hope in the Fight for Ethnic Unity (2021).
 Ed Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, BST (1988), 33.
 See Thomas Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (55-57) in the NAC on this.
 Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter, TNTC (1997), 48–49. Mine slightly adapts the original, which is written in the third person. Changing the pronouns doesn’t change the meaning, however. What’s true of Peter’s original readers is indeed true for us!