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Our Identity in Christ

Stonebrook Community Church http://www.stonebrook.org

 

Introduction

Is the word is living and active? Do we believe that the word of God is living and active? Is it alive and active enough to change us today?

This is just another Sunday morning – another passage from a really old book. I believe that this passage has the life and activity to change us today but WE need to embrace that.

Let’s pray and ask for help.

We have been studying through 1st Peter – 3rd week. This book was written to a specific people at a specific time by a specific author inspired by God to write these things in an organized and deliberate way. We can learn lessons from what he wrote, how he wrote and what he didn’t write to these people. We can learn from the WHOLE LETTER! Let’s not take this too piecemeal – it was written as a whole.

Aside: chapters and verses were added later. Headings even after that and depend on translation. They are so helpful – SOMETIMES. They can really hinder at other times. They can help you find a section you’re looking for much quicker. But they can tell you when to stop reading or what the subject of a passage is – and it’s often WRONG!

Authors intent – what is Peter saying to his audience? This is the first step in understanding any book. (also genre).

1 Peter 5:12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.

  • It = the grace of God in the midst of suffering
  • Encouraging them in the midst of suffering – Stand Firm = persevering in the grace of God, walking in Godliness
  • Remind them of the reality of what Christ has done
  • Being the priesthood and our role in showing the gentiles how amazing God is
  • We do this with household orders

Echoes of Jesus words:

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

In order to understand the book it’s helpful to break it down.
One way to divide the book is into 5 sections:
1. Greeting (1:1-2) Elect Exhiles – Chosen Outcasts – An interesting combination
2. Opening: Reassurance for God’s people (1:3-2:10) (Mercy to mercy)
3. As God’s people, live Godly lives (2:11-4:11) >>Beloved to Amen
4. Consolation for a suffering flock (4:12-5:11) >>Beloved to Amen
5. Closing: Final words and greetings (5:12-14)

The Whole Section – Reassurance for God’s People

What does it mean to participate in the new covenant in Christ blood?
This is where we’ve come – by God’s choice and the Spirit (1:2) just like Israel. There is continuity between the promises to at Moses’ time and this new covenant with now-Christians.
There are elements here from the old reinterpreted for the new through Christ. Election, obedience, sprinkling with blood, sanctification by the Spirit, the word of God, a living temple, a new priesthood, a holy nation, the people of God, Christians now as foreigners!

The prophecies of the OT wrote about Christ and the coming gospel now preached. (1:10-12). It’s the same Spirit who came at Pentecost on believers as the one who predicted the sufferings of Christ. The Spirit of Christ! (v11) There is a call to Holiness in the OT and a renewed call here through being born again with the seed of God and the word of God.

There is also redemption through blood with this blood being that of the blameless, spotless lamb – Jesus. We put our faith in the God of Israel (1:21)
The centerpiece temple is now the spiritual house that we in Christ are being built into with the Cornerstone being Christ (2:4-8) and this cornerstone being the dividing line between life and death.

What will you do with Christ?
Just like ancient Israel we are now the people of God a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s special possession. (2:9)
He ends like he begins with the mercy of God that we’ve been born again into.

“The opening of 1 Peter is a summary of how the old covenant has been transformed into the new by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It presents the new life in Christ into which Peter’s readers have been born again.”

Why? – Purpose: To encourage them in the midst of suffering, connecting their current place with what Israel went through, reminding them of the reality of what Christ has done. 

1:3-12 Based out of our Salvation, rejoice and live the Christian life.

1:13-2:3 Be what you are Then has 4 imperatives (Three of which Brad talked about last week) Imperative is the type of verb used to command “Please be quiet”.
These 4 commands are based right out of what Peter just said in 10-12 – included with built in motivation that we can’t skip over and just blindly obey – As Brad said
This is a great message but unfortunately for us we get caught in all the references back the OT and misunderstanding the context of writing and audience.

Let’s shade in a few of those things and then move on to identity. Therefore (because of who Jesus is and what’s he’s done for us from the past)
1. Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you (v 13) prepare your minds for action! Be sober-minded. Don’t set it on anything else.
2. Be holy in your whole way of life not conformed to this world (v 16) conduct yourselves with respectful fear because you’ve been taken from your old life.
3. Love one another earnestly (v 22) having purified your souls in obedience because you’ve been born again.
4. Crave pure spiritual milk (2:2)

Brad spent some time on the first 3 so let’s dive into the last. 

Command: Crave the milk

1 Peter 2:1-3 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation– if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

What about the “put off”? It modifies “the crave”. One of the ways we crave is by putting off these things. Peter is unpacking the earlier command to love one another eanestly (1:22).
Put off – Same word is used in Rom, Eph, Col and James for shedding behavior.
All evil (general term opposite of virtue) – incompatible with craving milk.
These sins are all incompatible with brotherly love (1:22).
These are not really bad things are they? They are however community destroying and common in churches.

The more of the Lord to be had involves putting off evil deceits hypocrisies and jealousies backbiting. Not doing this will stunt growth – just like not eating. Newborns – connected thoughts. Echos back to the “Born again through the living and abiding word of God” (v23).
The word-seed brings life and the word-milk sustains life. Just as you were saved by the Lord – crave more of him. 

It’s probable that Peter is thinking back to Ps 34 – Putting off is how the craving is expressed.

Psalm 34:13-14 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Milk is wider than just the word it is the life sustaining grace of Christ. Long for = develop an appetite for – We should instinctively desire the word and develop a taste for it. Milk is the word or the milk contained in the word (or Christ). The word is milk, and meat (1 Cor 3:1-4, Heb 5:11-14) also bread (Matt 4:4) and Honey (Ps 119:103). The "milk" here is not elementary Christian teaching (cf. 1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12-13), in contrast to "meat," but the spiritual food of all believers.

Grow up into Salvation – everything God has for you to experience. Peter's readers had already "tasted" God's goodness ("kindness") in their new birth. Greater consumption of God's Word would bring greater satisfaction, as well as increased spiritual growth (cf. Ps. 34:8).

Psalm 34:8

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

This is if you have tasted – how do you know that you have tasted? He’s writing to the elect. How do we know that we are the elect?

1 Peter 1:8 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,

This is his last command and then he ends this section with his last topic. Peter starts with Salvation and living based on that He brings us through 4 commands. Now he gives us a rundown of our new identity. Here Peter finishes by giving us our new ID card – the people of God. We’re identified by our relationship with one another 1:13-2:2 but now we’re identified by this community’s relationship with God. The line is not Jew/Gentile but Believer/Unbeliever.

Picture: Living Stones 1 Peter 2:4-8 

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

Corporate focus instead of individual – you are stones together being built. You are just like Christ here. Spiritual sacrifices – as all behavior that flows from a transformation of the human spirit by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (1:2) parallel to proclaiming the excellencies (v 9).

Hebrews 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Offering ourselves to God – as a contrast to the Jewish terms of sacrifices. We rest on Christ and we relate to other believers. Shame/Honor Will never be put to shame- from Isaiah – strongest use of this Honor (merit) versus shame – opposites.
The apostle referred to Psalm 118:22, that both Jesus and he had previously quoted to the Jewish leaders (Matt. 21:42; Acts 4:11).

Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

Destined to stumble: They are destined to stumble because they disobeyed. They are not destined to disobey. Yet we are all disobedient.

The Bible always places the responsibility for the destiny of the lost on them, for not believing, rather than on God for foreordaining (e.g., John 1:12; 3:36; 5:24; 6:47; Rom. 1—3).

". . . the point of 1 Peter 2:6-8 is to demonstrate the honored status believers have because of their relationship with Christ."

Romans 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

2 truths – 1 God hardens whom he chooses and 2 humans (because of sin) are responsible for being condemned. God’s mercy is given to those who do not deserve it; his hardening affects those who have already by their sin deserved condemnation. He changes the destiny of one group of people – those given mercy.

This verse helps us appreciate how much we need each other as Christians. God has a purpose for all of us to fulfill together, that we cannot fulfill individually on our own. The Christian who is not working in relationship with other Christians as fellow stones, as well as with Jesus Christ as his or her foundation, cannot fulfill God's complete purpose for him or her.

While every Christian has an individual purpose, we also have a corporate purpose that we cannot fulfill—unless we take our place in the community of Christians that is the church. REACH OUT AND TOUCH the person sitting next to you or near you. Don’t be afraid of them. You are both, you are all God’s building TOGTHER!

But there is more to our ID card. Picture: Nation

1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Peter is really working hard to make a connection between these believers (and therefore us), our covenant and the covenant that God had with Israel. 4 identifiers: chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, God’s special possession. All of these identifiers are originally used for Israel.

Isaiah 43:20-21 The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink …….to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

Exodus 19:6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel."

Israel was to stand between God and the rest of humanity, representing people before God. However, God withdrew this blessing from the whole nation because of the Israelites' little problem with the golden calf, and gave it to the faithful tribe of Levi instead (Num. 3:12-13, 45; 8:14; cf. Exod. 13:2; 32:25-29).

In contrast, every individual Christian is a priest before God we function as priests to the extent that we worship, intercede, and minister (v. 5; Rev. 1:6). There is no separate priestly class in the church as there was in Israel. //You are a Catholic Priest!!!! Universal priest.

They were to be a beacon nation. We are not called to be a beacon nation – we are to go to all nations. Matt 28:19-20

We are to proclaim the excellencies! That means as we are the church, doing what the church is supposed to do – it will tell people how great God is! This means specifically sharing the gospel, serving people, having good God honoring marriages, being good employees, obeying the laws – THESE ARE ALL COMING IN THIS BOOK! He then ends with an additional identifier: people who have received God’s mercy. What a wonderful thing!

Peter brings us full circle back to 1 Peter 1:3 …

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.

This is an allusion to the prophecy in Hosea 2:23

"and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, 'You are my people'; and he shall say, 'You are my God.'"

 

Conclusion

These verses advance the argument if 1:13-25 in preparation for the exhortations to follow. Because of their new life and status granted by God they should live in obedience to God’s will. 

  • 2:1 You’re former life was empty (1:18) and evil and ends in disaster (2:8)
  • We’re scattered but unified in one spiritual house (2:4-5) Honored alongside the rejected Living Stone.
  • We‘re connected with the same identifiers as Israel in a new way for the same purpose made new.
  • We’re people for God’s own possession in relationship to the world in which they live.
  • We have aspects of the nation of Israel's experience as the people of God that are also true of the New Testament church.

These elements of continuity include the election, redemption, holy standards, priestly ministry, and honor of the people of God. This continuity is the basis for the application of the title people of God to the church in 1 Peter 2:1-10. We as Christians, generally do not understand or appreciate God's purpose for the church, that Peter presented so clearly here. (Carry on for Israel: royal priesthood, be his temple, proclaim the excellencies, vessels of mercy).

We cannot simply put this aside. This is who we are now. We’re the church – that give us purpose – not just the American dream this gives us selflessness not just a desire to please ourselves this give us a reason to sacrifice and give up material things this give us a reason to live holy lives together.

We’ve got a lot more that we’re called to by Peter in the book.We need to have this foundation set otherwise we’ll take the rest of the books commands in the wrong way.

There are unbelievers in the world – but if you have believed then this is for you. You have made a choice – laid out by God to choose Christ. Now walk in him.

Psalm 34:1-10

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.