1 Peter 2:1-12

Stone of Stumbling, Rock of Offense, and Identity Statements.

We find Peter talking about each of these in the opening verses of chapter 2. After teaching 1 Peter 1:1-12 at our Women’s Bible Study last week, I was really looking forward to going into further explanation of all that Peter is referencing in verses 4-8. After all, Peter uses language of living stones, cornerstone, stone of stumbling, and rock of offense. And outside of us maybe thinking about all that we learned in a high school geology class about rocks, what on earth is Peter talking about here?

Well, instead of explaining these verses, I need to do something else. I need to remind of us of Peter’s identity statements. I need to remind of us these identity statements because the author behind this blog needs to be reminded of these truths. And if you’re anything like me, you probably need to be reminded as well.

Last week, I frequently found myself in my head – believing a ton of lies about my identity and my purpose. It started as one or two seemingly small lies, “You won’t get this job…You messed up cooking dinner with your husband…You can’t decorate your apartment well…” to bigger, more significant lies, “No one likes you…You mess up everything…You don’t fit with those around you…You ruin everything.”

Now before you think I’m just typing out my journal to you, just breathe. I’m not. One, I don’t journal, although I probably should. And two, I want to share truth – and not more lies. So last week in the midst of all the crazy talk going on in my head, two things happened. First, the Lord used his people to encourage me. My husband and close friends spoke truth to me when I couldn’t speak it to myself. When all I wanted to do was cry, they prayed for me, spoke truth to me, and helped hold my head. Secondly, the Lord used his truth to encourage me. The Spirit reminded me of the truth about my identity in Christ. Just on Monday night, I had taught through these verses, and little did I know the Spirit would use these verses to anchor me, uphold me, and refresh me.

So let’s all do ourselves a reminder today and look at what Peter says about those who are children of God. Whether you find yourself having a great day or a horrible day, our minds and hearts are prone to wander. We must be strong truth tellers to ourselves. This is a battle. Let’s get our minds ready.

In 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter helps us. Just as a reminder, one of Peter’s themes in this letter is our identity in Christ. And here again, the apostle speaks to who we are and whose we are.

(1) We are chosen by Christ. Unlike unbelievers who reject Christ, believers are a “chosen race” (verse 9). Our salvation is based on the sovereign, electing purposes of God. The scriptures make this explicitly and implicitly clear. Election (the fancy theological term defining us “being chosen”) is the great privilege from which all other privileges flow.

(2) We a royal priesthood for Christ. Here in verse 9, Peter employs an excellent symbol in combining in one metaphor references to both royalty and the priesthood. The concept of royal priesthood comes from Exodus 19:6 where God through Moses told Israel “You shall be to a me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” And we are royal in that we serve a King – King Jesus. As believers, we belong to a royal house of priests as those who rule with the King through access to both his presence and his power.

(3) We are set apart to Christ. In verse 9, Peter says that we are a “holy nation.” Here Peter continues to allude to the Old Testament to support the privileges God has granted to believers. In Exodus 19:6, we read “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. As children of God, we are set apart to Christ as the people of God.

(4) We are bought by Christ. Peter tells us that we are a “people for his own possession” (verse 9). If you don’t already know this, I love monograms. And as one whose monogrammed recently changed with marriage, our “monogram” will never change in Christ. We are God’s possession. We are his chosen people. Monogrammed with his name. He has set his name on you and me and it can’t be removed. As Christians, we belong to God because he bought us with the ultimate price with the death of his Son, Jesus Christ.  Peter is writing to those enduring fear to remind them and remind us that we are set apart, bought, and named with his name. We are his.

(5) We are called by Christ. Peter reminds us in verse 9 that we have been “called out his darkness into his marvelous light.” The apostle here is referencing  the moral darkness of those unbelievers who are in spiritual darkness. Christians have received the light of the truth of the Gospel. We see darkness and light here and may think of the creation narrative – once there was nothing and now there is something. This is my story. This is your story. We have been born again – from nothing to something. God creates us and call us.

(6) We are heralds of Christ. Peter tells us in verse 9 that these identity statements are true of us so that we might “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” There is no greater delight and no greater honor than to herald the Gospel. Peter has given us a foundation of our identity and now gives us the unified purpose for those in Christ. We get to tell of the person and work of Jesus Christ – “the excellencies” (verse 9).

(7) We are recipients of mercy from Christ. Peter acknowledges that the Gentiles did not previously know compassion from Christ. They were once not a people. But now they had become the people of God. They had “received mercy” (verse 10) from God. The same is true of us. God has shown us his compassion. He has not given us what we deserve. But instead, we receive his mercy.

Here they are. Seven identity statements for those who are in Christ. And I just love that the last one reminds us that we have received mercy. We have a gracious God who is kind to his children. I hope you don’t have many days filled with crazy talk and believing lies like I did last week. And if and when you do, may you and I be quick to remind us of truth – of who we are in Christ and whose we are as children of God. Be reminded. And be encouraged.

1 Peter 1:13-25

Empty Laundry Basket, Inbox Zero, and Checklist Completed: Why I Love Peter’s Commands and Any Others for that Matter.

There’s just nothing better. You know that feeling when all of the laundry is done, no emails remain in your inbox, and everything is crossed off your to-do list – and you think, “Yes, I’m nailing it.” If you’re anything like me, you experience this sense of achievement, of completion, of control – and then when your husband, or your boss, or your friend praises you for it, the desire for approval and praise only intensifies.

Maybe I’m taking this a little too far, I tend to do that kind of thing. But my husband recently pointed out how much I thrive to live at inbox zero and seem to do laundry practically every day. Now maybe being a newlywed has something to do with my zeal to daily perform these “wifey duties” with excellence, but I think there’s more there.

In teaching 1 Peter 1:13-25 this week to a lovely group of ladies at our new church called Journey the Way in Wichita, Kansas, it hit me. This is one of my favorite passages of 1 Peter. Why? After all, it is in these verses that Peter references a warlike image of “girding up the loins of our minds” (the Greek translation of verse 13) only then to tell us to “be holy in all your conduct” (verse 15). Thanks, Peter. You create a weird battleground image in my mind only then to set this lofty expectation of holiness that is just downright unattainable for this sinner saved by grace whose heart is still prone to wander.

Now why do I love this passage of 1 Peter? I love these verses that close chapter 1 for several reasons. One of which is how Peter mentions the sustainability and sufficiency of God’s Word. He tells us that the Scriptures are the “living and abiding Word of God” (verse 23). God’s Word is full of life and also full of intimacy. It is both alive and near. And it will never perish.

But if I’m really honest, I primarily love these verses because they are filled with commands. Peter tells us what to do. He gives me the overflowing laundry basket, the full email inbox, and the long list of tasks and says, “Here you go. Go and do. That laundry, those emails, and those to-do items have your name written all over them.”

That said, let’s dig into these verses. Let’s see our task list. But let’s remember that we do not perform to attain the love of God. Jesus Christ performed on our behalf. Instead, as children of God, we seek to walk in obedience not to earn the love of God but instead because we have been embraced by the love of God.

Remember the context, after mentioning obedience in verse 2, Peter tells us now what obedience looks like. In light of everything he already told us in chapter 1 about our vision of our living hope, the apostle tells us how we are to live. This pattern is helpful. Peter tells us the why of our theology before we tells us the what of our actions. Our beliefs lead our behaviors. And we see this here in chapter 1. So get you notepad or journal open. And let’s look at these 5 commands:

The first command: respond in hope. Peter says “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be revealed to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (verse 13). Peter uses this imperative “set your hope” to exhort in a military fashion to a decisive action, to live expectantly and intentionally. He tells us that we do this by preparing our minds for action (verse 3). I already mentioned this but in the Greek, this translates to “girding up the loins of your minds.” Peter is telling us: this will be a battle. And the battle for obedience doesn’t start in our actions, in our small group attendance, in our tithing – no, it starts in our minds. Right thinking leads to read believing leads to right doing. Peter also tells us that we set our hope on Christ by “being sober-minded” (verse 13). In other words, to be sober-minded is to be single-minded. I often like to pray Psalm 86:11 that God my unite my heart to fear his name (and thus be single-minded). So that’s the first command: set your hope on the future hope we have because of Christ. And yet, we usually want to set our hope on Jesus Christ + something else (think job, physical appearance, children, spouse, etc). And for all of us, there’s grace. And our second command.

The second command: respond in purity. Peter then says, “do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance” (verse 14). Don’t be driven by your passions. Don’t be driven by your crazy thoughts. Let’s think about some of the dumb things you used to do (or are doing right now)…I won’t tell you what they are – you probably know very well. It’s not right thinking that drives those decisions. It’s what feels right in the moment – our passions. Let’s be honest, that’s not a safe or a smart way to live. And Peter is saying, “Don’t do that anymore.” Don’t be shaped by the desires of your former ignorance (verse 14). But instead as those with a genuine hope in Christ, pursue purity. Genuine hope results in holiness.

The third command: respond in holiness. Peter then gives the positive side to the second command. In verse 15, he says “be holy in all of your conduct.” After telling us to abstain from the former passions of our lives, Peter says to be set apart, be different, be pure, be holy. And again, our pursuit of holiness isn’t out of our desire to be the super Christian with the empty laundry basket and completed Bible study every single week (although those are great desires). Our motive for holiness stems from our awe of the beauty of God’s holiness that we can’t imagine anything else. A good friend named Kent Bowles once told me, “Lacey, you don’t have to be perfect because you are loved by perfection.” As you read this, remember the goal of progress and not perfection. Just look at Peter. He wasn’t perfect. But he did progress in his faith.

The fourth command: respond with fear. Peter writes, “conduct yourselves with fear” (verse 17). Seek to honor the Lord with reverence, respect, and awe. We don’t often talk about our relationship with God and involve the word fear. And yet, Peter reminds us in this verse that God is both Father (loving and gracious) and Judge (holy, just). We live in that tension. In the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we see that God is both our Father (he is close) and he is in heaven (he is transcendent). Thus, we seek to fear our God who is both close and near and who is also powerful and transcendent.

The fifth command: respond with love. In verse 22, Peter gives us our final command “love one another earnestly.” Verse 22 starts with the phrase “having purified your souls,” and the Greek nerd in me wants you to know that this participle is in the perfect tense. Now before you stop reading the rest of this article, see what this means for us. This perfect tense describes a past action with continuing results. So for the child of God, God divinely cleanses our impure past. And then he gives us the continuous ability to walk in purity “for a sincere brotherly love” (verse 22) for the present and the future. Peter exhorts us to love “earnestly” (verse 22). I’m earnest about a lot of things: working out, watching college football, writing notes to my husband. But am I earnest about loving others? Again remember the context, Peter is writing to those in hostility. I don’t know about you but isn’t it easier to lash out to those closest to us and thus not love earnestly in the midst of hostility. You know at the end of a long work day, do you really want to love your roommate or spouse earnestly? And so, Peter reminds us that the ability to love with this kind of earnestness stems “from a pure heart” (verse 22). Brothers and sisters, it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Spirit, help us to love earnestly.

So there they are. Five commands from 1 Peter 1:13-25. Let’s pursue both our inbox zero and the application of these. On that note, I think I have some emails needing my response.

 

1 Peter 1:1-12

Rich hope, a rewarding inheritance, and some real confusion.

This is what we see in the first twelve verses of 1 Peter. It is here that we find the apostle Peter writing a letter of encouragement to a group of exiles scattered around Asia Minor. Peter reminds and encourages these Christians. The apostle reminds this dispersed people of their living hope and their future inheritance. And he encourages them to live in the midst of suffering for the glory of their Savior, King Jesus.

We can read through the first ten verses of 1 Peter and be encouraged and reminded ourselves. For those of us who are Christians, we have been “born again to a living hope” (verse 3), to an “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven” (verse 4). Peter reminds us that we are “being guarded” (verse 5) by the Holy Spirit in the midst of “various trials” (verse 6). We continue to read through verse 10 and think, ‘Thanks, Peter. In the midst of a stressful week at work or a difficult day of parenting a toddler, this is good news. I’m being refined. And there’s hope.

But then we get to verses 10-12. In these three verses, Peter uses the nouns prophets, angels, and heaven. Not three words we typically talk about in our weekly small groups or early morning accountability coffee meetings with a close friend, right? So if you’re anything like me, you’d rather skip these three verses. After all, the sermons we hear each Sunday morning probably don’t mention prophets, angels, and heaven much. So why should we bother with trying to understand?

Well, here’s the good news. Paul tells Timothy that all of Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). So these verses matter. Now, we agree that they matter. Now, let’s figure out what they mean.

Let’s all acknowledge that we wished Peter would have used additional periods here. There’s a lot here in three verses separated with only two periods. But aside from grammar, what do we see in verses 10-12 of 1 Peter?

First, the prophets studied salvation (verses 10-11). Peter says that they “searched and inquired carefully” (verse 10). They literally wanted to know all they could about God’s promised salvation. Let’s not forget that these prophets only had a partial revelation of “the grace that was to be yours” (verse 10). And despite this future grace that would come with the arrival of Jesus Christ, they shamed me and maybe even you – in how they studied the words of God. Peter encourages us: study like the prophets. Grow in your devotion so you can fully embrace this future hope of salvation.

Next, the apostles and others preached salvation (verse 12). Peter uses “the things” to refer to the salvation grace that was to come with the arrival of Christ. So who are these people who are preaching the Good News? Peter, the other disciples and apostles, and others who are not named. These were ministers of the Gospel, sent out by the church, as messengers of the gospel. And they preached salvation as those who were empowered by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Again, Peter encourages us: preach like the apostles. Walk by the Spirit so that you can faithfully bear witness to the Good News.

And lastly, the angels longed for salvation. There’s much discussion around both what angels do and what they experience. Even the Jews elevated angels, supremely worshipping them rather than seeing them as messengers of God. And today, we can see the same practice – with ideas like guardian angels and the like. As such, we affirm that angels aren’t superior. And they aren’t like us. They’ve never sinned so they can’t experience the fullness of saving and sustaining grace. And yet, they possessed a holy curiosity to understand this saving grace. The holy angels witnessed the glory of God’s salvation. And they respond with a longing for and worship of God. Lastly, Peter encourages us: long for like the angels. Desperately long to look into the beautiful mystery of the Gospel so that you might glory in the God of our salvation.

So there’s the introductory verses of 1 Peter. Peter reminds us of our rich hope, our future inheritance, and then encourages (and probably also confuses us) with talk about angels, prophets, and heaven. And yet, we have the full revelation. We know the end of the story. We have the Good News that the angels longed for and the prophets preached. Now that’s some encouragement. Be eager like the angels. And be encouraged like the prophets.