1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 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.
This morning, I’m just going to dive deeper into verse 2 of 1 Peter chapter 1.
“chosen” – it is, until heaven, always going to be something of a mystery of how we freely can choose to follow God, but that in some sense we are also chosen. The comfort I have in this apparent paradox is that I didn’t slip into the kingdom of God while no one was paying attention. I wasn’t accidentally allowed in. I was, with the foreknowledge of God the Father, chosen.
“through the sanctifying work of the Spirit” – I think that when I try to be holy in my own strength I am doomed to failure. It’s just to hard and my sinful flesh is too strong. This verse reveals the key: it is the work of the Spirit, and my role is not to engender massive amounts of gritted-teeth willpower, but simply to surrender to the Spirit of God who already wants to move me in that direction. Ironically, surrender can be harder than struggle, but it’s the only way to make progress in sanctification. “Become who you are” as someone once said.
“to be obedient to Jesus Christ” – our salvation and our sanctification are not without purpose. They are for a reason: that we might be obedient to Christ. To use a C.S. Lewis metaphor for a moment. If the church is a hospital, our purpose is not simply to get well. In the economy of God, once we are well, we should become doctors, caring for the lives of others and helping them towards wellness. We are not just “saved out” of our former lifestyle, but “saved to” a different life. I think this is why I get annoyed when people equate salvation or “eternal life” to heaven. This completely short-circuits whatever purpose God may have for me on this earth while I am still alive. For sure I am looking forward to heaven when I die, but I’m pretty sure that will take care of itself. I want to know what God has for me today; what redemptive possibilities exist right now that I can join Him in. Eternal life is not heaven. Eternal life is a different quality of life that begins right now, and extends into eternity.
“sprinkled with his blood” – as in, my sins washed clean. He is both the scapegoat and the sacrifice. My sins are placed on him, and my penalty became his. So I can live in the light of his grace, and experience peace in my soul, because I am no longer at war with God.
Look around today and see what opportunities God has saved you for. If you open your eyes, you will see them.