Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

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Our Place In This World

1Peter 1:1-2:2

Turn to John 21\r
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I like Peter. After Jesus picked out this rough and tumble fisherman from the Galilee shores he was always unpredictable, like a big puppy dog ? one minute full of love and devotion and the next railing on Jesus for talking about the cross.\r
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Peter went through extreme highs ? like the time he saw Jesus glorified on the Mount of Transfiguration ? and extreme lows, like during that fateful night when he denied that he even knew Jesus 3 times.\r
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I like Peter because he?s like us ? full of flaws and contradictions ? capable to great feats and fabulous goofups. He shows us that if God can use Peter, he can use anyone.\r
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Jesus took this loud-mouthed, impetuous, changeable man, and turned him into one of the greatest tools for His kingdom. You remember that even after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Peter just couldn?t seem to grasp it all ? and went back and tried fishing again, I guess figuring he had let Jesus down too much to deserve redemption.\r
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Jesus found Peter by the shore and over a fish roast gave Peter a new lease on life and a new mission ? he said: \r
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John 21:15-17 ?Feed My sheep?\r
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Jesus turned Peter from a shifting sand into a shepherd ? and gave him the heart of a pastor ? a tender of men. From this point on, Peter was a different man. He would spend the rest of his life reaching out to bring others into God?s kingdom, and then making sure the new little lambs were cared for, protected, nourished and encouraged.\r
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Peter wrote his two epistles from Rome, around 63 or 64AD. Peter is near the end ? he knows that he faces execution ? but he?s got some things to say, some encouragement to give to Christians who would face some terrible times. And his words echo down through the millennia to us ? a people who face mounting trouble not only as the body of Christ, but as individuals.\r
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The main theme of 1 Peter: How to live in the world as a Christian. It?s a good segue from Acts where we learned about our mission in the world ? to save the lost. Now we?ve got to figure out how to live in this world we have been sent to preach to. But not only that ? Peter wants us to know that\r
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1) Our place in God?s new kingdom is firm and secure\r
2) He wants to encourage spiritual growth in our lives\r
3) He wants us to have stability in that life\r
4) He wants to prepare us for what trials belonging to God brings us in this world\r
5) He wants to give us hope that when the tough stuff ends, the glory is just beginning.\r
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We?re going to take our time going through the 8 chapters of 1st and 2nd Peter. Sometimes, like today, we?ll make it through only 2 verses. Other times we?ll cover more ground ? but only as much as the Lord wishes for us to chew on. \r
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As we read the letters ? think of the man who wrote them ? Peter ? the gruff fisherman turned pastor ? who has a heart of caring much like that of his God.\r
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Vs 1\r
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?Strangers? means ?resident aliens?. This refers both to Jews driven out of Jerusalem, and to gentiles, converted and now living as strangers in their own land. We?ll get back to a more spiritual meaning of this phrase later.\r
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Peter writes the letter to the folks in the 5 provinces of Asia ? now in modern Turkey. As I said, he probably wrote the letter from Rome ? having arrived there shortly after the Apostle Paul in or around AD64. This was about the time Paul was getting out of prison, according to tradition. The letter would have been read aloud to the churches city by city.\r
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There is an interesting theological debate going on about this verse. Most would probably say that Peter is actually making a metaphor ? that we are ?like? strangers in this world. There is truth to that, and even later in the book Peter talks about living life as a stranger. \r
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But others say Peter is talking to a group of people, people who are marginalized by the society they live in, not necessarily because they are Christians, but because of who they are in social class.\r
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The churches there in Asia minor were made up almost exclusively of folks from the slave class ? not the rich, not the noble, but the poor ? people who had no protection socially.\r
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Why is this relevant to us today? Certainly in America we have very few if anyone who could identify with what it was like to have no rights, no money, maybe even no place to live.\r
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But to a certain extent we can. Though we have places to live, food on our tables, and legal rights to avail ourselves of ? most of us are only 1 paycheck from the streets. Our jobs are tenuous so that at the slightest whim an employer can send us packing ? and has for some of us.\r
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What rights do we have then? None, really. Oh, we can get some help but only for a while.\r
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For many of us, living is a constant unending effort towards survival. \r
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And so Peter focuses the attentions of these disenfranchised folks to a security they would never know in this life ? and it gives us hope as well.\r
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1 Corinthians 1:26 ?Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.?\r
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You see ? living here in this world we look up to the rich and powerful, the popular and famous ? but in God?s world they are nearly absent. The ?have?s? of this world seem to find it easy to turn their back on God because they have no need.\r
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We who know need know we must have a Savior.\r
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And God has reached down His hand to very ordinary people ? with an extraordinary promise ? help now, hope for the future. No matter how bad it gets, it?s worth it to stay the course.\r
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Peter packs a powerful plate of theology into the next verse ? telling us not only that we are saved but how that salvation came about. He wants us to know our place ? especially in light of what we face in this life. Because often when we get discouraged we forget our position in Christ and the riches there for us.\r
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Vs 2\r
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?To God?s elect?\r
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This doesn?t actually show up in the original. The verse reads this way: ?Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.?\r
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?Chosen?\r
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This doesn?t actually show up in the original verse either in the Greek. But both ideas are implied. It brings up the sticky subject of ?predestination.? \r
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It?s sticky because on the one hand we have free will, suggesting that we can chose whether we believe and thus belong to God ? yet then predestination suggests that the whole thing was rigged from the beginning and we had no choice in the matter at all ? our destination was preplanned.\r
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But let?s look at the next part of the verse to get a clue to understanding the idea.\r
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?According to the Foreknowledge of God the Father?\r
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Foreknowledge=GK: prognosis ?fore thought?\r
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For God, knowing something beforehand isn?t a matter of looking into the future ? it is looking into the past, as if it?s already happened. \r
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?According to? signifies the source through which something happens. The source of our salvation comes by God the Father knowing what?s going to happen as if it?s already happened. I won?t try to exhaust the subject of predestination ? we?ll save that for another time. Suffice it to say that God knew those who would chose Him, so he predestined them to that choice ? it is the miracle of free will and predetermination working together. It?s one of the things I plan to ask the Father about in heaven.\r
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?Through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit?\r
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?Through? means the instrument or agency by which this takes place. So the Father is the source, working through the agency of the Spirit ? and that agency is doing a particular kind of work: sanctification.\r
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?Sanctification? is an oft used and oft misunderstood word. It literally means ?purity?. And the idea here is that we are ?set apart for God? to become like Him, pure in every way.\r
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That fits right in with the next thought: \r
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?For the obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood?\r
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The ?obedience? here is ?to hear under? or could be translated ?attentive hearkening?. This is chosen obedience, or obedience that comes as a result of something. Contrast this with another Greek word for obedience which translates: ?to be subject to? ?to order under?\r
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We become obedient to Christ not through some forced subjection ? we are not under the law ? but because we desire to obey. \r
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The phrase carries an important thought ? ?sprinkling by His blood? You see, you can?t obey unless you have been sprinkled by Jesus? blood. No matter how many songs you learn or Christian lingo you can spout ? Christ?s blood, spilled at the cross, is the only way you can become pure. You cannot do it yourself and no one else can do it for you. You can obey all the rules you can think of ? but it will get you nowhere because God has said ?All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God?.\r
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All this is important for us to take in and understand ? it is the foundation of what has happened to those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is a mighty work ? and a secure work. \r
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God knows you and has set you apart for a purpose and a purity to the end that you become like Jesus, obeying God as you?ve been sprinkled with Jesus? blood. That?s what it?s all about ? the beginning, middle, and end, of our life.\r
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It?s important because of what Peter will share with us throughout the 2 epistles he wrote ? how to live in the world, and how to survive the trials that come our way.\r
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And that?s why I want to come back to the first words out of Peter?s mouth:\r
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1 Peter 1:1\r
?To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered?\r
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We are in many ways ?scattered strangers? \r
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Strangers because we are aliens in this place. Our position in Christ removes us from our position in the world. It should not surprise us, then, when we feel out of place.\r
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In Iceland I was among a people who spoke a different language and had different customs. This should be the way we feel - we speak a different language now ? a language of grace. And the customs and practices of the world around us should seem odd to us because the ways of the world, and of sin, are not our ways anymore.\r
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We are scattered as wheat among weeds. Sometimes we feel alone ? like there?s no one around to help or give comfort. It is at these times that we need to do two things:\r
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1) Remember our position\r
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Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. \r
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2) Reach out to our brethren\r
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Heb 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching. \r
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There is a day coming when the angel will announce our departing flight ? and we will be strangers no more ? in a kingdom where we will be at home, free from trial and hardship, the work completed.

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