Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 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.
1 Peter 1:1-2
It’s difficult for us to appreciate the real trials and challenges that first century believers experienced. Many were exiled for their faith and then scattered throughout the countries and areas mentioned in the verses above. They had to leave family, friends, their livelihoods and the familiar communities they knew and loved. Many human relationships were fractured and severed. They courageously faced the insecurity and instability of life and all the worry, concern and fear that brought. What would the future hold for them and their loved ones? What further persecution was on the horizon? In all these real and pressing uncertainties the Pastor and Apostle Peter has a word of sure and certain encouragement.
As their earthly and physical location had become unsure and unsettled they needed reassurance that their spiritual location, identity and security was unchanged and rooted in an unbroken bond sealed by the unchanging nature of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are fixed and tied to Trinity! Peter reminds them of the realities of their faith. They are “God’s elect…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Unchanging divine decree is the foundation of all our secure blessings. The amazing fact that Almighty God has established the world, the church and my personal salvation in a divine decree is an incredible mystery but a satisfying reality. What a blessed assurance this gives us. God who knows our sin, rebellion and disobedience yet exercises his sovereign choice to love us and include us in his family. No wonder that in verse 3 Peter highlights the “great mercy” of God as a reason for praise. We are reminded that this is no cold, clinical choice but as “God the Father” he has established this loving, intimate and adoptive personal relationship with us.
But how has all this amazing work been achieved and accomplished? In what definite and specific way is this secure relationship established? There are two wonderful realities highlighted here. First “the sanctifying work of the Spirit.” God the Spirit sets us apart by the miracle of new birth. God’s Spirit releases us from the blindness and bondage of our sin and sets us free. He then applies the finished work of Jesus Christ to us by creating a new obedience in our hearts. This is all possible because of the second reality – “his blood.” The shedding of the Lord’s blood on the cross as a substitute and sacrifice for our sin is the fixed basis of our acceptance and adoption into God’s family. The cleansing power of the blood of Christ washes every stain of guilt and shame. Wherever we are, whoever we have been or whatever else has been true of us, we are now in an inseparable relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son by the Holy Spirit.
No wonder that Peter reminds these scattered believers that on their uncertain journey they are always accompanied by “Grace and peace.” These twin blessings will lighten the load of worry, care and fear for present and future days. The grace that saved them will sustain and strengthen them. The peace that Christ promised his disciples in a world of trouble will safeguard their hearts and minds. And there is no short supply of these benefits as Peter reminds them that they are “in abundance.” No cutbacks, austerity measures or rationing of heavens resources. Then from vs 3-9 there is a cascade of further refreshing hope, inheritance, faith and joy for the believer even as they face “grief in all kinds of trials.” But on the journey which has a definite end and goal in view – “the salvation of your souls” they would be safely protected and “shielded by God’s power” to the very end. By faith let’s enjoy the same confidence and promises today.
Meirion Thomas, Malpas Road