Good morning, church. It’s so good to see you here in person, and for those of you who are watching online. I’m so glad that you are joining us, as well. And whatever is keeping you from gathering with us here, we hope that God’s grace will be with you. If it’s a trial, if it’s a test, his grace will be with you as you continue to follow him, and you’ll experience His grace day by day.
We are starting I Peter today, and before I get there, I want to mention one thing. By the way, I’m Matt Nestberg. I have the privilege of serving as the Pastor of Counseling Ministries here, and I want to take a minute to say something about that. That is we have an event coming up at the end of August, four weeks from now, on Friday night and Saturday morning, called “Facing the Darkness with the Lord of Light.” It’s a Lead Class that we’re offering Friday night and Saturday morning. Dr. Ed Welch will be our speaker, and we’re very excited to have him come from CCEF in Pennsylvania and come down and teach this class. It is on the subjects of anxiety and depression and those kinds of things that are in that realm.
I want to invite you to join us. If you have ever wrestled with those things, then you would be encouraged, and I encourage you to come to this class. If you know people, have friends or family that are wrestling or have wrestled with these kinds of things, then it would benefit you to come to this class. If you seek to help people who are wrestling with those kinds of things, then it would greatly benefit you as well to come to this class. So, I’m telling you that if you heard on the Need2Know. Tim said it, and I’m telling you again, inviting you to come and telling you that there is an early bird rate of $25 a person. Today is the last day you can register with that rate. So, on August 1st, which is tomorrow, begins the $35 rate, which is still a steal, but it’s a really good steal today. So, try to get online and register. You can go to the North Hills website, NorthHillsChurch.com, and then go to the Need2Know section, and there’s a slide that looks just like that [screen picture] on the Need2Know page, and it will tell you how to register.
We are in I Peter today. So, if you would grab a Bible and turn to I Peter, there is a Bible on the seatback in front of you. We are on page 1014 in that Bible, I Peter 1. And as I read verses from I Peter, they will not be up on the screens. When I read verses from other passages, that will be on the screens, but I want to encourage you to open your Bible and keep your Bible open and encourage you to look at your Bible.
So, I Peter 1 is where we are going to be. If you want to know where that is, it is towards the back third of the New Testament. You have Hebrews, James, 1 Peter and then 2 Peter, 1, 2, 3 John, the little tiny book of Jude, and Revelation. I Peter is where we are going to be today. As we begin this book, I’m going to give you a little context and background on the book and on the man Peter, who wrote this book. This book is written by Peter. He identifies himself as the writer in verse 1. It’s the Peter that was Jesus’s disciple. This is the first of two books that are written by the apostle Peter. The first book is called I Peter, and the second book is called 2 Peter. Yeah, it’s not a trick question.
Second Peter was written by Peter as well. We don’t have a gospel named after Peter. However, the gospel of Mark, it’s believed that that is Peter’s eyewitness account of the life of Jesus, that he dictated to Mark, and John Mark wrote it. But it doesn’t have Peter’s name on it. These two books, 1 and 2 Peter, have Peter’s name on it.
Let me tell you a little bit about Peter. I think that a lot of people sympathize with him and maybe identify with his struggles, kind of the roller coaster of Peter’s life. His name was originally Simon. Peter was a middle class or maybe lower-middle class fisherman. He was married. (You know all this. You’ve seen The Chosen. That’s exactly what it was like.) He came to follow Jesus because his brother Andrew came to him, told him about Jesus, left everything he had to follow Christ.
Peter was one of the inner three — Peter, James, and John — that were the closest to Jesus and partook in many of his activities. Peter, James, and John were with Jesus when he went up the Mount of Transfiguration, and he was transfigured there. Peter saw Elijah and Moses there with Jesus. Peter was there. He’s the one that, on the way down the mountain when Jesus said, “I’m going to be crucified and after three days I’m going to rise again,” he was one of the three that kind of scratched his head and went, “What is he talking about?” That was Peter.
Peter is the one when Jesus said, “Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am?” and Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said, “You are no longer Simon. I’m naming you Peter, the Rock” is what he said to him, and then just a short time later, Jesus calls him Satan because Peter tried to stand in Jesus’s way of going to the cross. That’s Peter. Really high highs, really low lows.
Peter told Jesus that he would never leave him no matter what came, that everybody else might leave you like these half disciples that also follow you, but I will never leave you, only to deny Jesus three times while he warmed himself by a fire while Jesus looked on from a distance.
He was also the one that was with Jesus on the beach while Jesus cooked fish, and Jesus said to him, “Peter, do you love me?” three times, restoring Peter back to faith after his threefold denial, giving him a threefold restoration, and he said, “Lord Jesus, you know that I love you.”
Less than two months later, Peter stood at Pentecost filled with the Holy Spirit, and delivered the Word of God, calling Jesus the Messiah and calling God’s people to repent and put their trust in the Messiah, and three thousand souls turned to faith in Jesus that day.
Peter began to travel around the ancient world and tell people about the Messiah Jesus and spread the Word. Peter worked wonders. He raised Tabitha from the dead and continued to travel and tell people about Jesus Christ.
Peter eventually ended up in Rome, where he was martyred. We believe in A.D. 67 Peter was killed. And tradition tells us that when he was led to be crucified, that Peter said, “I do not want to be crucified as my Lord” and was crucified upside down. That was Peter. That’s the man who wrote this book. He identifies himself in I Peter 1:1 simply as an apostle of Jesus Christ. That might be an understatement. But that’s Peter.
Now, let me give you some background of this book. Peter’s original recipients were in Asia Minor, which is now Turkey, in the five provinces that he names in I Peter 1:1. If you look, you can see just below the Black Sea, you can see those five provinces that he names on that map, which is now Turkey in Asia Minor.
Scholars believe that the letter was addressed primarily to Gentile Christians because … Let me give you three reasons why it’s addressed to Gentile Christians — the internal testimony of the book. Peter says in I Peter 1, he refers to their “former ignorance.” He refers to “the futile ways in which you inherited from your forefathers.” That is language that he would say to Gentiles, not Jews. That’s the first one. The second reason is in I Peter 4:3, 4. The lifestyle that Peter describes, their former lifestyle, fits a Gentile audience, not a Jewish audience. And then lastly, those provinces that you see there in that map are largely Gentile. And so, the churches would be mostly Gentile Christians as well, but there would, of course, be some converted Jewish presence as well.
In the book, Peter encourages his readers to endure under suffering and trials. However, when we think of that in the ancient world, we might think of Rome and persecution and that kind of thing. However, this letter was written in A.D. 63, which predates the official policies of persecution by the Roman Empire. The great fire of Rome happened in 64, a year later, and that’s when Nero blamed Christians and began the empire-wide policy of persecuting Christians. So, this letter predates the empire-wide persecution of Christians; therefore, it seems more likely that the kinds of trouble that Peter is describing here — the trials and sufferings — he was addressing things like verbal abuse and discrimination and mistreatments of other kinds. It’s possible that there was some physical abuse as well that often follows those things, but even if that’s true, it still wasn’t empire-wide policy yet.
And so, that gets us into some of the themes of the book. We’re calling this series “Exiles: Joyful or Cynical?” At the beginning of the book in I Peter 1:1, Peter calls them “elect exiles.” Now, this is an interesting expression. The word “exiles” means “resident aliens, sojourners, pilgrims, exiles.” It’s an expression that’s used regarding God’s people throughout the Bible.
Let me give you some examples. In Hebrews 11:13, it says this.
“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar. And having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”
That passage in Hebrews 11 is talking about Old Testament saints, who it describes as exiles, strangers and exiles, on the earth.
One example of that in the Old Testament is found in Exodus 23:9, and I’m going to quote from the Christian Standard Bible, because it really highlights that “resident alien” picture really well. It says,
“You must not oppress a resident alien. You yourselves know how it feels to be a resident alien because you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt.”
That “resident alien,” that exile is a theme throughout the Old Testament that says, “You, God’s people, know what it’s like because before you were in the Promised Land, you were exiles, you were resident aliens.” That’s what God’s people are called, and so, I Peter identifies or addresses, rather, the identity and life of exiles.
Now, why are they exiles or how are they exiles? Well, they are exiles, as all God’s people have been exiles. It’s not because they’re living in Turkey as opposed to somewhere else. It’s because they are Jews and Gentiles living on earth, aliens from home — heaven. That’s why they’re exiles.
Paul says this too in Philippians 3:20 when he says,
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
God’s chosen people are exiles on earth. That’s our identity. So, the people of God are primarily citizens, not of earth, but of heaven. That’s our primary citizenship. The exiles are Christians, and Christians are exiles.
So, if you think about that in the ancient world, it’s a short bridge to cross from the ancient world to us because we, church, are also exiles. This is not our final home. We are not primarily citizens of earth. Our citizenship is primarily in heaven and secondarily in America or whatever other nationality is represented here. We are primarily citizens of heaven, secondarily citizens of earth. Our identity is primarily Christian and secondarily everything else.
We too are exiles, and sometimes, sometimes the world reminds us that we are exiles. Sometimes the world reminds us that we have strange doctrine and that we don’t fit into the world. One example occurred last Sunday. You probably saw the story in the news. When Dr. Kristin Collier spoke at the University of Michigan’s white coat ceremony for medical students, when she was introduced as the keynote speaker and got up to speak, dozens of medical students walked out in protest. Why? What is the horrible thing that Dr. Collier did? Well, Dr. Collier is a Christian, and she previously said that she holds
“on to a view of feminism where one fights for the rights of all women and girls, especially those who are most vulnerable. I can’t not lament the violence directed at my prenatal sisters in the act of abortion done in the name of autonomy.”
And because she spoke the strange doctrine of advocating for the unborn, medical students at the University of [Michigan] walked out.
Sometimes the world reminds us that what we believe doesn’t fit. We rightly should see ourselves as exiles. And when this kind of behavior happens, it really shouldn’t surprise us by those who are primarily citizens of the earth. One periodical that I read regularly said it this way. He said,
“For any Christian who believes that a dead man got up out of his grave two thousand years ago, there’s an increasing gulf with those who do not — a fact which no amount of cultural hipness can overcome. We will be found weird, wanting, and ripe for ridicule.” [Jared Bridges]
And that’s true. The very fact that you and I believe that Jesus Christ was crucified two thousand years ago, put in a grave, and then walked out is enough to make it sound like strange doctrine and make us exiles on this earth. That’s enough. That’s all it takes because that’s weird, right? It doesn’t happen every day.
And so, we believe that, we hold on to that, and we are exiles. And this is the kind of exile that the right or the listeners in I Peter are experiencing. It’s dismissal, marginalization, mockery, missed promotions, disparaging comments, criticism by relatives, and so on and so on and so on and so on and so on. That’s the kind of exile. They and we are exiles.
And it’s into that environment that Peter calls out, “Hey exiles, you can either be joyful or cynical. Here’s why you should be joyful,” because there is a lot of reasons to be cynical if you are living in first century Rome, and there is a lot of reasons to be cynical if you are living in the 21st century America. But Peter calls out to them and us, calls us to something better than cynicism in I Peter.
I get to start things off today and next Sunday with the first two big passages, and they are packed. They should probably be multiple sermons, more than two, but I get two. So, we have a lot of ground to cover. I’m going to break it up into two sections. The first one today is about our salvation. And next week is about conduct. So, salvation, conduct. Today is about saved exiles; next week is about holy exiles. Saved exiles, holy exiles. So, let’s pray and we’ll jump in.
Holy Spirit, I pray that you would fill me now that I can speak your Word for your people and your glory. I pray, Lord, that these things would be true and helpful and that your people would have open ears to hear what would benefit and call us in this world that we live as exiles to live with joy. In Jesus’s name. Amen.
The heart of Peter’s letter here at the beginning is found in [I Peter] 1:9, when he refers to the salvation of your souls. That word “salvation,” if you heard it mentioned over and over again in these first twelve verses, occurs three out of four times in the book right here in these few passages Peter gives us in this opening passage four massive pieces of salvation in twelve verses. So, here they are. I’m going to give you the four pieces, and they’re big.
The first one is this — Salvation is rooted in the godhead. Salvation is rooted in the godhead. Peter writes,
“To those who are elect exiles” [I’m in verse 1] … “To those who are elect exiles.”
Now, we already talked about what the word exiles means. The term “elect” or “chosen,” (you could say chosen or elect) modifies exiles. The chosen are exiles. He’s saying to Gentile readers, he’s using language that the Old Testament uses of Israel, God’s chosen people. He’s now saying it to a Gentile audience, “You have been chosen by God.”
“You are God’s chosen people.”
You are strangers and aliens and exiles because you are chosen by God. That’s what makes you an exile because you are elect. You are chosen.
The rest of verse 1 is a parenthetical — where the recipients are living of the dispersion and Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Then verse 2 picks up and modifies the word “elect.” So, we have this elect-exiles parenthetical. And now, verse 2 tells us what “elect” means or gives us some modifiers on “elect.” The Christian Standard Bible and the New International Version repeat the word “chosen” at the beginning of verse 2 to help connect us back to that “chosen exiles.” The word is not repeated in the original language. They did it to try to help us see that, and rightly so, because that’s what it’s modifying. The sentence grammatically should read like this,
“To those who are elect exiles according to the foreknowledge of God, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for the obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood, may grace and peace be multiplied to you.” [paraphrase]
That’s the sentence. Now those three descriptors modify the word “elect.” The three descriptors are “according to the foreknowledge of God,” “in the sanctification of the Spirit,” “for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.” Those are the three modifiers. Now, that could be three points of a sermon right there, and you can unpack that for an entire sermon. But that’s only my first point. So, I don’t have that much time, but I am going to unpack it a little bit, each one of those phrases a little bit.
So, here we go. We’re still on point one. Here we go.
“According to the foreknowledge of God, the Father,”
This is modifying the word “elect.” “The foreknowledge of God the Father” in this verse must include not only that God foresaw whom he would choose, whom would be his chosen, but that He also ordained whom he would choose, not only that he saw it intellectually, but that he did it. He chose. Let me give you three reasons.
One — In the Bible the word “know” has covenantal aspects to it, especially in the Old Testament. Beginning in the Old Testament, it has covenantal aspects to it, not only intellectual, when it talks about what God “knows” towards people. It’s a covenantal, relational move, and it refers to God’s covenantal love given to his people. Examples are in Genesis 18:19, Jeremiah 1:5, Amos 3:2. God “knows.” He moves in covenant towards people. That’s the first reason.
Number two — Those covenantal aspects that we see in the Old Testament carry over into the New Testament. This is very clear in Acts 2:23 when “foreknowledge” is directly connected to “predestination.” Those two things go together in the New Testament as well. Acts 3:2, Romans 11:2, Romans 8:9 are examples. That’s the second point.
The third point is the testimony of Peter himself in this book. It’s consistent with Peter’s other usage in I Peter 1:20 that Christ was foreknown before the foundation of the world. In I Peter 1:20, Peter is not saying that God merely foreknew, really foresaw, when Christ would come, but that God foreordained it and sent Christ. That’s a very different thing, and that’s what he’s doing. The coming of Jesus could not be dependent on human choices. It had to be God sending him. Therefore, what Peter is emphasizing is this, church. Peter is beginning this letter, this context of salvation, by emphasizing sovereign, covenantal affection and initiative to save people.
That’s what God does. This is good news, isn’t it? This is how I pray for the lost because the lost aren’t going to come to Jesus out of my example. So, I pray, “God, get them.” And Peter begins this talk of salvation with “look at what God has done.” That’s the first phrase.
Here’s the second phrase (and these are going to go faster).
“In the sanctification of the Spirit,”
The term “sanctification” generally refers to the progressive growth in holiness in the lives of believers. In this context, however, sanctification is talking about conversion. Peter is explaining how people become part of God’s chosen people. Remember this all modifies “elect.” He’s talking about how people become part of God’s chosen people. How? The Spirit converts them to faith, bringing them into the realm of the holy, the sanctified. That’s the work of the Spirit.
And then he says,
“for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:”
What is this? Well, the obedience spoken of here is not ongoing obedience in the life of Christians. We’re going to get to that. That matters. We’re getting to that soon, namely next week. But this is not about that. It’s about the initial obedience of receiving the gospel message in salvation like Paul said in Romans 1:5, “the obedience of faith.” That is the initial step of obedience, of putting faith in Jesus. That’s the obedience he’s talking about and adds that we, in that moment, are cleansed by his blood, that is, forgiven.
So, right here at the beginning, [these are] the pieces that make us elect exiles, God’s people. Peter begins writing about our salvation by talking about how it’s rooted in who all God is — Father, Spirit, and Son. That’s what He’s done. Somebody better say, “Amen!” So, right away we get a picture of salvation that is significantly bigger than we imagined. You may have thought only Paul talks about salvation. But Peter is right on it. That’s first. Salvation is rooted in the godhead.
Second — Salvation is guarded by God’s power. Starting with verse 3 until verse 12 is one sentence. It’s one Greek sentence, verses 3-12, a consistent, long, complicated sentence, but one. And he begins this way in verse 3.
“Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again”
That is John 3 language, new birth language. He’s still talking about salvation.
“to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
That’s how he starts. And now, he’s going to give us two time spaces regarding our salvation. One of them is future. One of them is present. Future, present. He already talked about the past.
“Jesus Christ risen from the grave.”
He’ll tell about our future and our present. Here he goes, verse 4.
“to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for you,”
Now, let me tell you something. I have a $1,000 bill. I’m not kidding. I don’t have it on me because I know some of your pickpockets, and you’d snatch that right off of me before you left today. But I have a $1,000 bill. It’s actually not mine. It’s my mom’s that I hold onto for her, and it’s in good shape. But here’s what I know about $1,000 bills. $1,000 bills are made out of the same material as $1 bills. Did you know that? It’s called paper. And here’s something I know about paper. It doesn’t last forever. Because the dirt, the oils from our skin, and everything else is going to want to make that decay. So, do you know what exists in the world? People that take $1,000 bills that are out of circulation, and they encase them in this plastic wrap that doesn’t affect the bill but completely seals it so that it prevents decay because that bill today is not worth $1,000. It’s worth about $1,500 dollars. Imagine that. There are some $1,000 bills that are super rare that are worth thousands, ten thousand plus because they’re rare. Mine’s only worth about $1,500. Mine … It’s my mom’s. My mom’s is only worth about $1,500.
And so, you can preserve these things to prevent decay. So, we tend to think of … In our experience, everything fades, everything decays. God talks about our future inheritance, and what he says about it is that it’s preserved. Our future inheritance is preserved. He says it’s imperishable; that is, it’s incorruptible. It’s undefiled; that is, it’s untainted. It’s unfading, which means it retains its wonderful character. And this surprises us because when God says, “You have an inheritance in heaven,” we might go, “Yeah, but you’ve been saying that for two thousand years. How good could that inheritance be now? And plus, who knows how long I’m going to be on this earth? Like, if it’s like that $1,000 bill, who knows what it’s going to be worth by the time I get to heaven, especially if it’s in tatters?” And God says, Peter says that God’s got it! God’s got your inheritance. It will not … every other thing that you own fades. Not this. Not this.
And then he gives the present — verse 5,
“who by God’s power”
Who is the “who”? Well, the “who” is us. He says “caused us.” Us? Now, he’s saying “us.”
“who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
That’s present. The security of our inheritance is protected now. It’s preserved in the future. It’s protected now.
Now, here’s the thing, church. You and I can see the past. Spiritually, we can see Jesus has risen from the dead. We can see the promises of the future. It’s the present that dogs us because you know and I know; we know our own weaknesses. We know our own failures and our own sins. We know the things that we just blow it. It’s the present that dogs us. I mean, look who’s writing the letter. His present had to dog him.
So, what does God do about that? Does he choose us, send his Son, raise him from the dead, and say, “See you on the other side”? Is that what he does? He does not do that. God causes us to be born again and then “us” (it modifies us),
“who, by God’s power are being guarded”
That is present. “You are now being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Therefore, what he’s saying is this. There is not an internal force like corruption or weakness, nor an external force like sin or destruction that can affect yours and my salvation. Period. God himself guards it. He guards it. Peter wants us to see that God is doing everything that must be done to secure our salvation. And somebody else better say, “Amen” because you know your sins, and I know mine, and God’s guarding. He is standing guard. Peter wants us to be deeply secure in God. That’s number two.
Number three — Salvation is bona fide by faith. I realize that that’s a play on words because “bona fide,” “fide” is faith. But actually it’s there. Faith runs like a thread through I Peter. It’s four times in these opening verses, like woven with salvation, like strands of DNA. Look at verse 6.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith” [that’s bona fide faith] …”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. 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, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” [I Peter 1:6-9]
There it is again — salvation. We’re still on salvation. He hasn’t left it.
“Obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
So, let me just point out three quick things about this faith, and it’s going to be quick. You ready? There’s three things about faith. Number one, it’s tough faith. The word “trials” means a test for strength. Temptations are attempts to destroy. That’s different. God doesn’t give us temptations. He does not seek to destroy our faith. He does test our faith for strength. God, under his authority, kindly allows our faith to be tested for strength. And tough trials bring tough faith.
I have stories. Some of you have better ones or worse ones that you could share. I have a big X in my notes because I don’t have time, but you could tell stories about how God tried your faith. I don’t know where else to run when there’s a trial except for to God and to his people. And God kindly allows those things to produce faith, stronger faith … in yourself? No. In Jesus. Tough faith.
Second is joyful faith. Faith rejoices even though there are trials because we’re looking to the future. We’re exiles. We’re not people who selfishly try to gain everything in this world, pulling it into ourselves in the present. We are people who have our eyes on the future to the imperishable inheritance, which empowers us to have joy in the present, living through difficult circumstances. These verses are so similar … same words that are used in James 1:2-3, where James says,
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
Third is blessed faith. I really like verse 8. Imagine Peter, who walked with Jesus. Look at verse 8. He says,
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him”
There’s that faith word again — “believe.” It’s the same root. You haven’t seen him. I walked with him. I saw him on the Mount of Transfiguration, but you still believe in him. I love it that Peter is writing that to a church. Towards the end of his life, I think this is what Peter’s keying in on. In John 20 towards the end of his life, Jesus said to one of his disciples, and Peter was standing right there. Jesus said it to Thomas, and the Bible says that Peter was in the room. Jesus said,
“Have you believed because you’ve seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
You know who Jesus is talking about? Well, he’s talking about the recipients of Peter’s letter. That’s what Peter’s saying. Do you know who else he’s talking about? You and I.
“Blessed are you who have not seen and yet still believe.”
So, that’s the third one.
Here’s the last one. The last thing Peter says about our salvation in these verses is that our salvation is craved by heaven and earth. It’s craved by heaven and earth. There are three parts of this that I’ve called “craved by heaven and earth,” but look at verse 10.
“Concerning this salvation,” [we’re still on the theme of salvation] … “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” [I Peter 1:10-11]
Now, first stop right there. Peter has some Isaiah references in this letter. And so, let’s just imagine that he’s talking about Isaiah for a moment, approximately 700 years before Peter. What he’s saying about Isaiah is that Isaiah is writing his prophecy about the coming suffering servant, and that prophets like Isaiah went, “Well, who is this? And when is this going to happen? I want to know. Wouldn’t you know?” That’s what they say. In verse 12 he says, “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you.” So, the Spirit said, “Isaiah, this is not for you. You’re not going to see this. This is for future people, not you.”
“They’re serving not themselves but you in the things that have now been announced to you [church] through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”
So, first of all, it says that the Spirit was sent from heaven to bring this to you. That’s cool. That’s the second part of it. You’ve got the prophets and the Spirit, and then you’ve got the angels. It says, “things that they long to look.” That literally means, “They bend to look over.” You can imagine angels bending over the edge of heaven to watch this drama play out. What is it talking about? Well, angels can only look at salvation from the outside. They can’t experience it. But they watch it, this unfolding story with the prophets and Jesus coming, and now look at the church and the Spirit, and they watch; they lean forward. On a smaller scale, it’s like watching a sporting event from the outside that you really get into.
I’m a child of the eighties. So, if you watched “Miracle on Ice,” or if you saw the movie, that’s a classic good versus evil, David versus Goliath, right? The Soviets and the USA, right? So, even if you just watched it, you can get into it, and maybe you shed a tear, and this is unbelievable — all the things that come together! And no matter how much you get into it, you’re still an observer. You’re not Herb Brooks. But at the end of the movie, it says that Herb Brooks died before principal photography finished for the movie, and then it says, “He never saw it.” Then what does it say? “He lived it.” Because living it is way different than just watching it. Living it is something.
And the angels are like us watching “Miracle on Ice.” But with regard to salvation, we are on the ice. We’re living it. This is what God has done. The angels can’t believe it! And here we are in the middle of this drama, living it out as the Spirit does his work.
The last thing in this opening section that Peter says is that our salvation was proclaimed by prophets, admired by angels, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. What a combo! And that’s how Peter begins his great letter — with those verses, with our salvation.
Now, I really, really, really wanted to end my sermon today by going through I Peter and showing you all the pieces of salvation that Peter brings together, but I don’t have time to do that. You’ll hear it as we go through the book, but I think, I think we have to ask before we move on to next Sunday and talk about the conduct of exiles, while we’re here and talking about the salvation of exiles, that we should stay right there and think about salvation. Do you and I have the salvation that Peter describes? Do we have it? If not, the rest of the book is going to be talking about something else that we’re not experiencing. We’re just watching it. Do you have it? The rest won’t mean much if we don’t have this at the beginning. And so, I’m going to end today with sharing two verses from I Peter with you. It’s a sobering end, but I think it’s one that we need as we think about salvation.
Here they are. One — I Peter 4:17 is about God’s judgment, and it says,
“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
It’s a sobering reminder of God’s judgment.
And Peter says this, that there is hope through the salvation that Jesus offers when he writes,
I Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins and his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
“By his wounds you have been healed.”
Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, I pray for my brothers and sisters here that the salvation that Peter describes will be something that we have experienced, and if not, that you, by your power, would draw men and women to yourself into faith by the grace of Jesus, whose wounds have healed us and continue to heal us.
We praise you, God, at the beginning of this message from Peter. And I pray, God, that if there were one thing, if there’s one nugget that, Spirit, that you could apply to men and women’s hearts here, that you would just do that. Just one thing that they could remember, that would reflect your heart. I ask you in the name of Christ. Amen.