Online Worship for Trinity Five, Sunday July 17, 2022
Sermon for Trinity Five – Sunday July 17, 2022
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
1 Peter 1:1-2, EHV
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To the elect, temporary residents in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you.
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Dear Fellow Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,
So, unless you’ve been quarantining in your home with the drapes drawn, unwilling to answer the door or listen to television or radio...you’ve heard the last five years about the Caravans of Illegal Immigrants traveling through Mexico toward the southern border of the United States. The people in these caravans are reported to have fled from countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras seeking a new life in the United States. Some seek to enter our country and become citizens legally and others enter illegally. An immigrant is a person who leaves one country to settle in another.
When the Apostle Peter was directed by the Holy Spirit to write his epistles, he wrote to people who were living like immigrants among the peoples of five Roman Provinces. They are described as ‘exiles’ or ‘temporary residents.’ Today we might call them immigrants, strangers in another land. In some cases, the Christians actually were immigrants of Jewish descent who had been displaced, carried away into captivity and settled among the residents of these provinces. In other cases, the Christians were Gentiles (non-Jews) who had been raised in those provinces but became like strangers in their own land when they left their pagan religions and became followers of Jesus.
This morning we begin a detailed study of the 1st Letter of Peter that will last into November. In the first two verses of this letter, we are reminded that as Christians we are all – Just Passing Through – this world. May God the Holy Spirit bless our study of this Word of God. Amen.
It’s fair to say that Fishermen have a funny reputation. Since some fishermen have told stories and tall tales (that cannot be verified) about the ‘big one that got away’ their words are sometimes thought to be unreliable. The fish that some fishermen have landed in the past...seem to get bigger every day.
Simon the son of Jonah (or John) was a fisherman who plied his trade on the Lake of Galilee (also known as Chinneroth, or Sea of Tiberias). While this is a letter written by a grizzled fisherman, we should not doubt the contents of this book as ‘a fishing story’ because the contents of this book are God-breathed or inspired by the Holy Spirit. These words are not a personal letter intended for a handful of people, but one whose message speaks to those who believe in Jesus still today.
While we often conclude our letters by signing our names, when the Spirit of God directed a fisherman to write, he began with his name and the reason why He was qualified to write:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
Peter’s given name was Simon (or Simeon) the son of Jonah (or John). When Jesus first met Andrew’s brother, He knew his name, but gave him another, saying (John 1:42, ESV):
“You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).”
Jesus gave Simon the name Cephas (in Aramaic) which in Greek is Peter. The name means ‘a rock’ or ‘a stone.’ It wasn’t Peter’s given name, but it stuck. In most cases in the New Testament, Simon is simply called Peter.
We don’t know why Jesus chose this name for Simon...but it wasn’t because he was himself a rock or unmovable force. It seems more likely that Jesus gave him the name because of the rock-solid confession that he would (by the grace of God) later give.
The Gospels of Matthew and Mark (Matthew 16:13-18, Mark 8:27) tells us that Jesus and his disciples were near Caesarea Philippi when Jesus asked what the people said about him. After they told Him, Jesus asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon spoke for all the rest, saying (Matthew 16:16-18):
“’You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’.
Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’”
Peter’s Confession remains the Confession of the Christian Church Today. For those who truly follow Christ still confess that He is the Christ (the Chosen of God) and the Son of the Living God.
Peter began with the name that Jesus gave to him...and then attached it with Jesus’ name using the word: “Apostle.” Jesus had many disciples...but only a few apostles. A disciple is a student or learner. An Apostle is ‘one sent out’ by Jesus Himself.
However, when he is called ‘An Apostle of Jesus Christ’ it doesn’t indicate that Peter was merely one of many. It indicates the close relationship between Peter and Jesus. He was an Apostle belonging to Jesus Christ. The boastful Simon of Holy Week...became the servant of Jesus.
This isn’t a fishing story, but a letter given to Peter by the Holy Spirit to comfort persecuted Christians.
If the writer of this letter is interesting...the way the recipients are described is even more important. The Spirit of God directed this Peter to write:
To the elect, temporary residents in the world,
scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
It happens when people appreciate what we have done for them, they heap praise upon us. They thank us for what we have done, “Thank you so very much.” They might tell us, “You did a great job.” They might even say, “You are the best thing that ever happened to us.”
When Peter calls the recipients of his letter (literally): “The Elect Ones” it wasn’t because of something that they had done. They became ‘elect ones’ when God chose them...not when they decided to believe in Jesus. The fact of the matter was that despite the persecutions they were undergoing, God had chosen them to be united to Jesus by faith long before they were ever born.
The Spirit of God directed the Apostle Paul to write the Ephesians that God (Ephesians 1:4 EHV):
“...chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.”
So also, the Spirit of God comforted the bewildered recipients of this letter by calling them “the elect ones.” It was important in troubled times that they knew that God hadn’t forsaken them, but still loved them with an everlasting love.
He reminded them that God knew them before they took their first breath and had pre-arranged to make them His Children by faith. We might say that God had his eye on them for a long, long time. God didn’t choose them because of who they were, but in spite of the fact that they would grow up rebellion sinners.
We can be comforted by the same truth today. God chose us before we took our first breath and pre-arranged that we would become His Children by faith. He directed history so that you would be baptized (your sins washed away) and so that you might have the message of Jesus’ rescue on the cross proclaimed to you and then confirmed your faith through that Word.
God elected you; you didn’t choose Him. God pre-arranged to make you His Children and you did next to nothing. It’s like your place in your earthly family. It was God’s grace and His blessing on your parent’s love that brought you into this world. You did nothing to make it so.
The Spirit of God also moved Peter to describe them as ‘exiles’ or ‘strangers’ or “temporary residents in the world’. The word that is used refers to people who are not in their homeland, but who live in another land among strangers. The first recipients of this letter didn’t live in Jerusalem or Nazareth. They didn’t’ even live in Judea or Galilee. They were a long way from the Holy Land.
They are also described as ‘scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.’ If you look at the map on the front of the bulletin and compare it to a map of modern Turkey then you can figure out the kinds of places in which they lived. They were ‘scattered’ like tiny islands in a vast ocean of unbelievers.
The word is used to describe those Jews who were carried away by the Assyrians and Babylonians and settled in different lands far from Judea.
It was used of those Jews unable to return to the Holy Land, who longed for that place. It’s also used of Gentile Christians, who in becoming Christians, became like foreigners in their own lands.
Do we think of ourselves as ‘temporary residents in the world’? Do we live like we are just passing through...or like this is it for us? These words don’t only describe those in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia in the 1st Century. These words are a description of you, my fellow Christians, here today.
You have been chosen by God to be His own. You have been separated from this world going to ‘hell in a handbasket’ and dedicated to God. There is a door in the Father’s House with your name on it and it’s far better than anything you might build and inhabit here in this world.
This is the truth that led Thomas R. Taylor to write on his deathbed in 1836,
“I’m but a stranger here, Heav’n is my home; Earth is a desert drear, Heav’n is my home. Danger and sorrow stand Round me on every hand; Heav’n is my father land, Heav’n is my home.”
It’s not that we don’t appreciate our time of grace. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the God-given blessings of spouse, family and friends. It’s not that we don’t revel in the beauty of God’s creation. There is an expiration date with this world and a better one is coming, one without sin and death.
We look forward to that world to come. We live in this world like Abraham did in the Promised Land. We share the same longing for a better place as described in the letter to the Hebrews (11:9-10, 14-16, EHV):
9By faith he lived as a stranger in the Promised Land, as if it did not belong to him, dwelling in tents along with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God...14Indeed, people who say things like that make it clear that they are looking for a land of their own. 15And if they were remembering the land they had come from, they would have had an opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better land—a heavenly one. For that reason, God is not ashamed to be called their God, because he prepared a city for them.
This may sound like a lonely description: “the elect ones, temporary residents in the world, scattered...” This is a description of every Christian in whose life God has intervened.
We should never feel alone or cast off, no matter the circumstances when we remember what Father, Son and Spirit did that we might be adopted into the family of God. It wasn’t just these scattered immigrants; these words include you.
2who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Most of us were born citizens of the United States. We didn’t have to flee a war-ravaged country and take refuge in another. We didn’t have to take steps to legally renounce our former country and promise allegiance to this one. It’s not a huge surprise then that a growing number of young people born in our country today don’t appreciate what has been done for them to begin and maintain the freedoms we enjoy.
Do we appreciate what has been done for us to make us citizens of God’s Eternal Kingdom? Do we take it for granted that we are Children of God? Do we boast in our strong faith or do we thank our gracious God for doing for us what we could never do? I pray it’s always the latter.
We are just passing through this world because God has prepared a better future for us. God pre-planned saving us before we were ever born. He chose you...despite the fact that you were going to be born a rebellious sinner. God determined that the Spirit of God would sanctify you, that is, separate you from your former allegiance to sin and dedicate you to God. God determined to cleanse you daily of sins through the precious blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
There is nothing that happens in this world – good or bad – that can change God’s Love for you...a love born long before you were born. He didn’t just say He loved you, He offered up His perfect sinless Son for you. He intervened in your life by changing your heart and promising to daily and richly forgive your sins.
God’s undeserved love and the peace that results from it are yours in abundance. In this world we are strangers just passing through...our destination is better by far.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares we have already come;
Tis grace has brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.