You Are Alive in a Dead World (1 Pet 1:3)

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Download Sermon OutlineLiving Secure in an Insecure World  (1 Peter 1:1-5)

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You Are Alive in a Dead World

1 Peter 1:3

WOW, are we different from each other …We don’t look alike. We don’t’ act alike. We don’t dress alike. We have different tastes in food, in music, and in the books we read. We have dissimilar backgrounds, goals, and motivations. We have different directions, preferences, freedoms, likes and politics. Our weights vary, our heights vary, so does the color of our skin. But there is one thing we all have in common; we all know what it means to HURT…Suffering is a universal language. Tears are the same for every culture, every race, every age, children, teens, adults or elderly. Since pain is such a pervasive problem, we need a potent prescription. And Peter’s first epistle dispenses that prescription with TRUTH that tells us how we can smile through suffering.

Peter was a man well acquainted with suffering – even the suffering for things he brought upon himself. He was broken hearted when he denied Jesus on the night of His betrayal.  Jesus told Peter – get behind me Satan! Even 20 years later, Peter messed up with Paul by dividing up Jew and Gentile violating the very TRUTH of the GOSPEL.  That’s encouraging to me. And the people Peter writes in 1 Peter were displaced believers who were being singed by the flames of suffering and experiencing some persecution – their circumstances were pretty bleak. Yet Peter didn’t try to pump them up with positive thinking, politically correct speech, or radio talk against the current Caesar.  No, Peter gently lifted their chins, to turn their eyes UPWARD,  so they could LOOK INTO THE FACE OF THEIR GOD. You’ll feel that today.

The very first thing Peter does, EVEN as He GREETS them in the midst of their difficulties, is to remind them that GOD HAS CHOSEN THEM.  Look at verses 1-2.

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

Peter speaks with the authority of an apostle, TO a people forced to leave Rome to live in a far away region below the Black Sea. But the first thing Peter reminds them of is God’s sovereign control in all things, seen in our FATHER, choosing them. Genuine Christians can live secure in an insecure world because God is the one who PLANNED their salvation.  In his greeting, Peter pulls the curtain back to give us a look; and it is NOT like OZ – and God is not the wizard – a FAKE carnival man pretending to be great and powerful.  NO When Peter pulls the curtain back; you fall on your face in worship because you see an Awesome God – the One who did everything for us in salvation. Peter tells them and us, the source of our salvation is God Himself. Peter only gives us A GOD CENTERED THEOLOGY – God is the author. Right off, Peter declares, it is all about our God, not about you.  And all 3 members of the Godhead are involved in verse 2 – The Father chose you before the foundation of the world to be His intimate children. The Spirit will help you overcome remaining sin and make you more like Christ to the point where you will OBEY Jesus Christ with a willing want to hear.

SO Peter writes this letter to…

To encourage YOU in the midst of YOUR trials and suffering

To prepare YOU for more difficulties to come

To help YOU see things from God’s point of view

To strengthen YOUR faith while remaining under pressure

To cause them to live by the gospel and celebrate YOUR salvation

Now in verses 3-5, Peter describes the benefits of salvation they are already experiencing in verse 3, and the blessings of salvation that will be fully realized in the future in verses 4+5. Notice the box in the outline, which shows how these verses break down in the original language and where God plus Peter puts his emphasis. Since we are only interested in the authors intended meaning, the 4 participles in these verses make up the 4 points of our outline And this 3 verse section is summarized by one main verb in verse 5 – to be revealed:    READ verses 1-3 silently as I read ALOUD.

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood; May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

What God has done for them and for us in HIS salvation is so overwhelming; Peter actually begins with PRAISE. Notice verse 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since God is the SOURCE of all blessing, how is it possible for us to bless Him? The word Blessed is the Greek word Eulogetos [we get the English word Eulogy from this term]. It means ‘well spoken of’. Therefore, to BLESS God is to speak well of God, you might say, to BRAG about your God. This is crucial–do you speak well of God? Do you say things like; God is great, I am so thankful for Him. Jesus saved me. God forgave me, He is awesome. Do you speak well of Him?  Can you imagine how your witness would improve if you merely made a habit of speaking well of God to both saved and unsaved? Those who don’t speak well of God, have a problem… It could be

You don’t know Him personally in salvation; or

You are not walking with Him intimately through His Spirit; or

You’ve fallen into a pattern of religious walk, going thru the motions; or

You’re not living by faith, where you’re in a place of great dependence; or

You’ve even been hurt by God and secretly resent Him. Does that happen?

The 1 Peter believers were faithfully living for Christ, sharing the gospel in Rome and God rewards them by forcing entire families; women and children to live on the wild frontier with no job, in Roman disfavor, with little hope. They could have resented their God very easily

So Peter reminds them in verses 1+2, they are ALIENS here but they have been lovingly chosen, empowered by the Spirit and able to follow Christ in obedience. Peter says you’re blessed + there is purpose in your pain.

But now in verse 3, notice how Peter describes the relationship between the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The phrase God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, identifies God in a distinctly Christian way. Our God is ONE, but in 3 persons all equally God. So Christians are to bless God as the Father of their Lord Jesus. Christ always called God, His Father or My Father every single time except once, when the Father forsook Jesus on the cross – as Jesus bore God’s wrath for our sin. Try to imagine, absolute holiness, total perfection, in eternal oneness before time, yet when bearing our sin, the perfect God-man cried out in Matthew 27:46 “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” WOW! But every other time but that one horrible moment, in calling God His Father, Jesus was claiming to share HIS NATURE. Jesus said in John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.” One in nature! Later when Philip asked Jesus to show us the Father, Jesus said in John 14:9 “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?  Jesus affirmed that, He and the Father possessed the same divine nature – that He Jesus, is fully God sharing the same life as God and eternally equal. They function in different roles, but Father, Son, and Spirit are equally God – 3 but 1.

Christian, this is CRUCIAL. It means no one can claim to know God unless He knows Him as the one revealed in Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus made that clear in John 14:6-7 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” I am not saying this, JESUS IS SAYING THIS. Jesus Christ says here, ‘ALL you Muslims, Mormons, Jehovahs Witnesses, Buddhists & Jews– you do not know God + you’re not going to heaven! But even more frightening than that, are those who say, I am a Christian, but are actually religious lukewarm self deceived tares; They’re mostly uncommitted but some are serving in Christ name, but Christ will say to them in the future Depart from me I never knew you. So, WHO TRULY KNOWS GOD? verse 3 gives us a clue: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The redeemed acknowledge GOD as their creator, they depend upon Him like a FATHER, they are obedient to Him as their LORD, they are the friend of JESUS, and they look to Him as their Savior, CHRIST, who died for their sins, rose again and is their daily source of mercy for on-going sin. NOW that’s a God to BLESS.  In verse 3, Peter actually makes it necessary for all of us to BLESS GOD – the Greek text is very strong – it actually omits the word BE – which the translators ADD. The original Greek sentence reads BLESSED THE GOD, expecting those aliens and us today to bless God as the source of our salvation and all our eternal blessings. Peter adores God and implores us to do the same – WHY? It’s the best remedy for hearts that are weighed down with discouragement because of suffering – have you learned that yet? Speaking well of God will lift your hurting heart!

Next Peter gives two reasons why we should BLESS GOD! Why two reasons, because there are two participles in verse 3 that CREATE these two reasons which make up the two main points

When He saves you

#1 God gives you a NEW LIFE – today

VERSE 3 who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again. How does He accomplish giving rebellious sinners a brand new life? Through His Mercy…What is God’s MERCY?  Mercy is compassion on someone who is hurting. It is pity in the midst of suffering. Mercy assumes a genuine need on the part of the recipient and adequate resources on the part often One showing mercy.  Therefore God’s mercy is seen in His compassionate act of saving us when we were without hope of saving ourselves. We can’t save ourselves, choose God, stand in His presence, go to heaven, NOR be right with God on our own. Think of the most Godly person you know – a discipler, a parent, some praying grandma who was so loving, faithful and saturated with scripture that they seem to be holding Christ’s hand.  THAT PERSON is also in desperate need of God’s mercy – JUST AS MUCH as a murderer, drug dealers, gossip or fornicator. That is why Peter says God’s mercy was the motive behind God granting us eternal life. Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). Mercy focuses on us as sinners – mercy is needed because of our miserable, pitiful and helpless condition. As Non Christians we are dead in our sins, deceitful in heart, corrupt in mind, wicked in our desires – all of which makes us SLAVES of sin and headed for a just punishment in hell. Because of our lost condemned condition, we need God to show compassionate mercy to us. And THANKFULLY, the bible tells us the Lord is SO grieved over our desperate condition, He has a heart to help us – listen to God’s heart in these two passages…Ezekiel 18:23 “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live? Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. God has a heart of MERCY. MERCY was the reason our Lord Jesus healed people’s diseases during his earthly ministry! Jesus could have shown His deity many other ways, but Christ chose to heal because those acts best illustrate {the compassionate merciful heart of God toward us as sinners who are suffering the misery of our fallen condition}. Imagine walking by a leper, most of his body rubbed off, no lips, sores, limbs deformed, rotten and broken – no one would come near him and it would be painful for you or I to even look at him. Then Jesus walks by, stops, bends down, prays – and then does what no one would ever do, touches the man and heals him. That leper is YOU; his leprosy is your sin. It is just as disgusting for a holy God to look at you in your sin as it is for us to look at a man rotting away from leprosy. But God chose you and in time, Jesus through His Spirit, stops, bends down, prays and touches you and gives you SALVATION. We don’t deserve God’s mercy but He gives it to those WHOM HE CHOOSES and is so lavished with MERCY, He is called the FATHER OF MERCIES. He was merciful to YOU; He was merciful to ME – praise Him for His Mercy. Vs 3 is translated according to His great mercy– but it’s literally UNDER His MANY mercies. This is a powerful way of saying His mercies are so great it’s as if God is under the weight of them; He has so much mercy it’s heavy, His mercies dominate Him and they compel Him to pour them out on His children.

Verse3 God is compelled under the weight of His abundant mercy. And what has God done for us according to His MERCY? This is good…He has caused us to be BORN AGAIN. This term has been massively misused in our day–most see it to mean a NEW LEASE ON LIFE. But biblically, BORN AGAIN is not someone who was hurt or sad, and now is high and happy,

but born again is biblically one who was DEAD but now they’re ALIVE. God has given us NEW LIFE – you don’t do it, only God raises the dead. Being born again is pictured in BAPTISM – you die with Christ in His death under the water, the OLD YOU is washed away and you are risen with Christ to a whole NEW LIFE. Like 2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  What would you tell someone who asks you what it means to be BORN AGAIN? – You might say, it’s a complete spiritual mulligan, a total eternal do over, a full internal make over, a full-blown transformation, a genuine resurrection from the dead. You LOOK the same but you are NOT THE SAME as you were. It’s not turning over a new leaf, it is giving you a new life. These 1 Peter Christians may have lost their home, friends and income by being sent away from Rome by Caesar, but they’ve been made internally brand new by Christ, the King OVER Caesar. Verse 3 says who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again. Born again here a participle that points to a general time IN THE PAST when God awoken us, transformed us and made us new!  It is the Holy Spirit imparting to us a new life, making us partakers of the divine nature – called REGENERATION. In the order of salvation, it’s God who regenerates your heart 1st this makes you alive to God – no longer blind, but now can see, enabling you for the first time to turn to Christ in FAITH and turn from sin in REPENTANCE. Regeneration comes before Faith. Jeremiah once asked, can the Ethopian change his skin or the leopard his spots – the answer is the same to the question, can a sinner change his nature – the answer is NO. Our sinful nature needs changing –

how many of you …

Have ever said something about someone you should not have?

Hit someone in anger? Taken something not yours?

Desired something that belonged to another?

That means you are a violent, thieving, greedy… gossip – reminding you that your nature is sinful and needs transforming, but sadly, WE CAN’T CHANGE IT. Only God, working through His Holy Spirit, can transform the sinful human heart?  Acts 15:8 God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, 9 … cleansing their hearts by faith. In order for sinners to receive eternal life from God, they must be reborn – called regeneration. So Peter says in verse 3 GOD… has caused us to be born again. Being Born again is not religion – Religion says OBEY in order to CHANGE, but being Born Again means God changes you so you WANT TO OBEY. Religion means trying to LOOK GOOD externally but never cures your heart of FEAR, but being Born Again gives you an internal heart of trust, resulting in GOOD external behavior. Religion is PURSUED to get things from God. Being Born Again results in a heart that wants to PURSUE God. The religious read the Bible to feel good about them selves, the born again read the Bible to commune with Christ and know Him better. The religious pray to feel spiritual, the born again pray to have a conversation of intimacy with their God and are spiritual. The religious worry about being seen by others as a sinner externally, but the born again are more concerned about sinful heart motives, desires, and selfish wants that no one sees but GOD. Being born again is an internal transformation only God can do. He didn’t get it, because he thought he needed a new religion, but Jesus told him, he actually needed a new life, by the Spirit, becoming a totally new creation, NOT merely improving the old. What he couldn’t get but we must embrace, is that apart from the new birth, we are dead in our sins, by nature children of wrath, loving darkness and hating light, with hearts as hard as stone, unable to submit to God or please Him, unable to accept the gospel and unable to come to Christ or embrace Christ as our LORD. It’s the new birth that makes us ALIVE – regeneration; born again. BORN AGAIN means a NEW BEGINNING, like starting over, like being born as a brand new baby. It refers to the beginning of spiritual life, and implies there will be spiritual growth following. It’s the reason you get so excited when babies are born and the reason why you clap when you hear someone’s testimony.  BORN AGAIN means BORN from ABOVE, it is not something men can do but God alone brings this about. It is radical, unsettling and totally God centered – God alone gives life to the dead. BORN AGAIN means to be REMADE, recreated, a NEW YOU. You are not the same, you may look the same but you will not be the same person internally. You’re old nature dies and is replaced by a new nature, your heart is made new, you desire to follow Christ, obey His Word, follow His will and do what He wants. By His mercy, the Lord chose you, He elected you out of an ocean of DEAD humanity, to make you ALIVE. Like Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, so while all of humanity is literally, the walking DEAD, ZOMBIES are real – non-Christians are unaware they are dead zombie….God, in His mercy, CHOSE to make you …ALIVE. Tomorrow, while at school, at work, around town, even in your home, begin to look at people with MERCY in your heart, knowing that all those you are around who don’t know Christ, are spiritual zombies – alive, but dead toward God. They don’t see their desperate need. So God gives you NEW LIFE today and…

#2 God gives you a living CERTAINTY – today Look at the rest of vs. 3

to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. What is the living hope we have as believers? The confident anticipation of a future with Christ; an expectancy of what God has in store for all of us who’ve been made alive! Unbelievers know only dying hopes, but believers have living hope. Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous is gladness, but the expectation of the wicked perishes. Ephesians 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ … having no hope and without God in the world. Non Christians have no hope, but Christians have GREAT HOPE. Now remember, there is a difference between our English language hope and certain biblical hope. Biblical hope is best illustrated in the life of a normal little girl. Most little girls, when they start growing up, want to be brides. When a little girl goes to a wedding with her family and she watches the bride come down the aisle in her flowing gown, holding beautiful flowers, attended by her stunning bridesmaids, she begins to think, ‘Maybe, someday, I’ll be a bride.’ Little boys who go to weddings don’t ever want to be brides.  All little boys want at weddings is cake and candy, collegiate men just want FREE FOOD – not much has changed. Usually, after seeing a wedding, girls start hoping, in the English usage of hope. Maybe yes, maybe no, BUT…Then one day, galloping into the horizon of her life on a snorting white stallion,… muscles bulging on the stallion, is her Knight in Shining Armor. He reaches down, scoops her up, then whispers in her ear, “How about June 13th?” Now a big transition just took place because she just moved from English hope, to Biblical hope. Now her whole life is going to be riveted on a future reality. All her thoughts, emotions and efforts are all oriented to a real future event coming into her life so that everything is dramatically re-arranged in the present. That is the power of biblical hope.

Peter’s readers are HURTING; some are suffering, others are facing DEATH. They were faithful to Christ, yet now they are struggling in a foreign land. Many of your friends are without hope.  They have nothing to hang onto. All they’ve known is betrayal and now feel no one cares. But in salvation, Peter says God has given you a LIVING HOPE, a certain guarantee, a confident optimism – what is it?  Eternal life, heaven, life with Christ forever in perfection! Do you have a hope of heaven? Does it impact your daily life? If you belong to CHRIST, you can rest your troubled heart in the confident expectation of your eternal home. The certain HOPE of heaven transforms the way you understand suffering and death. In the midst of life’s deepest tragedies, your heart is buoyed by the unwavering promise of a future with Christ. But the buoying effects of our LIVING HOPE don’t end there. A living hope can and should transform every area of our lives.  LIKE Colossians 3:1 says…If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Heaven should affect the way you deal with daily trials. All the little frustrations in life – traffic jams, difficult co-workers, unruly children – won’t make a dent, when you’re focused on your future with Christ in sinless perfection, total peace and unfailing love. Focusing on heaven should also revolutionize your relationships. With the glories of eternity constantly on your mind, you will deeply cherish fellowship with other believers, as it offers a small glimpse of what awaits in heaven. The special time you spend together around God’s Word, in prayer, in service to others and enjoying Christians is just a taste, really only the smell of the thanksgiving dinner you will soon eat in heaven. This is why Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; Having heaven on your mind will make you more eager to share the gospel to your friends and family who don’t yet know the Lord. Their dead condition and urgent need for salvation will be at the forefront of your mind, and you won’t neglect opportunities to bring them face to face with eternal truth and the reality of heaven. Have you heard someone say, They’re so heavenly minded they are no earthly good. Well, that’s a LIE: I’ve never met anyone who was heavenly minded enough… and the more heavenly minded you are, the more earthly good you will be.

So Peter says, this hope is ALIVE, and literally in verse 3 he says INTO THE SPHERE of living hope; we’re immersed in hope – it’s an optimistic certainty that should grow more and more each year. Joy, love and HOPE require that Christians refuse to be negative curmudgeons soured like pickles. As a child of God, you have no right to look on the dark side of things and to look for the worst to happen to you. As the object of God’s mercy, salvation and HOPE, you have a mandate to look for the best to come to you and to look on the bright side of things now & in the future. It is this certain future that makes this temporary suffering lose its hold on us. The Christian aliens Peter writes are feeling hopeless. SO Peter reminds them of a LIVING HOPE cause of what Christ has done. You Christians are not clinging to a faded dream or foolish speculation of your future. You HOLD a living hope, FOUNDED in reality and grounded in fact. It’s guaranteed! How? Verse 3 to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our hope is secure guaranteed by the resurrection of Christ. Is Jesus dead or alive? Did He die, but now return from death? Did Jesus destroy death? YES, HE IS RISEN – HE IS ALIVE! He himself was dead, now made alive, like we were dead, but now made alive. God GUARANTEES our HOPE in ultimate final future salvation BY His resurrection from the dead. If God brought Jesus through the most painful of trials and from the pit of death itself, certainly He can bring us through whatever we may face… Prior to raising Lazarus from the grave, Jesus told Martha John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”  Do you believe this? We will never die the second death, because Jesus beat death. The resurrection of Christ from the dead secures for YOU,

His child, both NEW resurrection bodies in the future, and NEW spiritual life now. YOU long for perfect bodies that never tire, never grown, don’t grow soft and fat and weak. But right now you can celebrate that you have new hearts, a new nature and the indwelling Holy Spirit giving us a LIVING HOPE; a certainty – of what is to come.

Are you ready?  What should we do now?

1. Make a practice of daily BRAGGING about God

Pick an attribute, grab a quality, focus on a blessing, and say it, share it, talk about it, name it, focus on it, tell non-Christians about it. Watch how it changes your heart and how God uses it

throughout the day to minister to others. There is power in praise. Be one who speaks well of God every day.

2. Let your heart MELT under God’s mercy

Remember who you were. Paul shows how important this is in Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. Imagine where your life would have traveled in this life and ultimately ended up, if Christ had not saved you? Allow God’s mercy to you a leper of sinful wretchedness tenderize your heart and fill you with tearful thanks…

3. Choose to make daily routines into HEAVENLY reminders

When you’re fellowshipping with saints or saved family and its sweet remember how much sweeter it will be 24/7 in heaven. When you’re super comfortable in your easy chair at home remember how much more at HOME you will feel in heaven.   When singing, prayer, or bible study fills your heart remember how saturated your heart will be in heaven. When your kids or spouse make your soul almost burst with joy KNOW heaven will be even sweeter AND when life gets hard for you, remember this is the only Hell you will ever experience. Keep heaven on your mind in every good and bad thing.

4. Turn to Christ alone for internal TRANSFORMATION

Don’t settle for the religion of externals, cry out for God to awaken you from sleep, raise you from the dead, give your blind eyes sight, so you might be able to turn to CHRIST in dependant faith and transform you from the inside out…YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN.

Next week, like when a relative dies, we will READ GOD’S WILL and discover what you have INHERITED from Christ. And we will learn of God’s PROTECTION which will all be fully REVEALED in the future.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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