To The Church in Exile

Video of this lesson can be accessed on Facebook HERE. The lesson begins about 10 minutes into the video.

1 Peter 1:1-12 TO THE CHURCH IN EXILE

  • This letter is written to exiled Christians who were displaced due to persecution.
  • Tell us about the setting of this letter and how we can view it with a contemporary perspective.
  • Written to: The elect exiles, throughout Asia Christians forced from their home due to persecution, also citizens of heaven living in this world, aliens in a foreign land.

Imagine life as a first century Christian. We always tend to think of our life and our times as the most corrupt, difficult, evil, and hopeless. We have our homes, our freedom to worship, and our friends and family enjoy those same blessings- because we are citizens of heaven, Jesus as King and Savior, with a home prepared for us, meanwhile we are passing through this life as the body of Christ.

Perhaps an Ecclesiastical perspective is very wise when it comes to approaching a study of Peter:

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

1 Peter 1:1,2 ESV

What do you see in these verses that tells us how God sees the exiles?

God saves. Elect exiles – though they have lost their homes and familiar surroundings, they remain ‘elect’, saved by God. Their situation is not a reflection of being lost or of being rejected by God.

God Knows. Nothing that happened to them (or us) is a surprise to God. “According to the foreknowledge of God”

God sanctifies. “in the sanctification of the Spirit” – God is at work helping the scattered church to maintain their holy lifestyles. Through Their obedience to Jesus; Empowered by the blood of Jesus

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:3

Why is hope such a powerful need for the recipients of this letter – and for us?
– Hope is built on God’s mercy
-This is not the end. (Living hope)
-This does not destroy what God has created. (through the resurrection)

to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. To an Inheritance: imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven

1 Peter 2:4,5

How can an inheritance in heaven encourage me now?

We are born again to a living hope that is:
Imperishable= eternal (not) temporary
Undefiled= complete (not) partial, corrupted or broken
Unfading= Clear (not) confusing or disturbing

Nothing that happens to us here can affect the inheritance we have from God.
-Amplified: Beyond the reach of change and decay
-Guarded by God’s power

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been
grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more
precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to
result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6,7

Rejoicing in trials – that is counterintuitive. How can I see this in light of my faith? It does test our faith. We should take the time to notice the small things in life and take joy in those as we face trials. Life is predominantly difficult, how are we going to react to these trials that we face?

Right now we are faced with a decision on how we perceive this situation where we are in self-quarantine (or exile, if you will) and we can look at this a number of ways –

We can rejoice in the time we get to spend with those we love – or we can fearfully watch the news and social media and stay in a mode of panic

We can take time to be still and spend time with Jesus in prayer and in the word – or we can complain about the inconveniences that we find ourselves facing.

We can share our abundance with neighbors, care for those in need – or – we can hoard materials and indulgences.

We can reconnect with old friends and family members separated by time and distance -or- we can lose sleep at night due to worry and fear.

*‘Grieved’ by various trials – we do not have to pretend that we are ok – it is hard.

*Faith is precious, i.e. valuable, it is worth everything to us. More valuable than gold.

*Faith keeps us going until the last day – when Jesus is revealed – and we bring Him glory

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:8,9

A poetic reminder about faith and the outcome. Why does it help to focus on the future promised salvation? We have not seen Jesus, but we love him. We Believe in Jesus. We rejoice with inexpressible joy as we consider the outcome of our faith,
salvation.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

1 Peter 1:10-12

Why would the interest / knowledge of the prophets and the angels matter to us when we are suffering? They were willing to suffer physical torture and even death for their faith. They remained faithful to God in adverse circumstances. Even the angels, before Christ came, did not know how God was going to work it all out. We can’t know how everything is going to turn out in this coronavirus pandemic, God is fully aware and we can put our faith in Him.

Verse 10 is a reference to the prophets, NT writers tend to do this in any discussion about faith because it displays the faithfulness of God, the promises that He has kept, the foretelling of His salvation that has been satisfied… and if God has been faithful, what in heaven or on earth could stop Him from continuing to deliver?

We see that believers proclaim their faith with inexpressible joy- not for any glorification of themselves, but for the hearers and readers of their words. Any follower of Jesus who faces trials- and this, again, is not for selfish reasons, but completely selfless- therefore we are called to action (which is discussed in the following verses). We often express what we think, how we feel, but because of the preciousness of our faith, it has created a joy that is inexpressible with words, to put it another way, our joy can only be expressed through how we live, how we treat others, what we do- this is the expression of a faith that produces inexpressible joy, beyond words.

How fitting is this text after experiencing a new way of life over the past week or so?

“Normalcy” is being redefined moment by moment in real time. How will we, as the church respond?

We have a choice, to respond with joy, hope, and love through a faith that is strengthened as we experience a new form of exile, or will our response be fear, panic, complaining, and selfishness.

What does it look like to put our faith in God in a time of pandemic anxiety?
-Remembering the promises and truths of God in the Bible

-Taking time to purposefully relax, be quiet – take a break from the news

-Just think about doing the right thing today – tomorrow can be too much

-Consider how you can serve others in the name of Jesus (calls, texts, emails)

-Take regular prayer breaks – even set an alarm on your phone to remind you

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:12

-Read over this section of 1 Peter and remember
*God sees you.

*Hope. We have built our lives on the living hope of the resurrection

*Growth – this season of trials is a season of growth for us.

*Joy – not based on feeling good in our circumstances, but based on the faithfulness of God in all circumstances.