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Lent Midweek Sermon Series: 1 Peter 2

Having laid the groundwork for the Epistle in Chapter 1, Peter unpacks what it means for us to be redeemed.  Far from a stepping stone onto bigger and better things, Christ is in fact the cornerstone upon which the living building of the church is being built.  Christ is the beginning and the end of our faith—and everything in between.  We only have faith because he has caused us to be born again (1 Peter 1:2).  Our destiny is to be with Jesus (1 Peter 2:11).  And between the beginning end the end, while we sojourn here, we should “long for the pure spiritual milk,” so that by it we “grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).  And again, here in this life we ought to follow Christ’s example in suffering (1 Peter 2:21).  Jesus planted faith within our hearts through his word, he sustains that faith, and he guards it that it may reach its intended goal. 

Though the Christian has a living faith, though he sets his eyes on Jesus, though the Lord sustains him here below, nonetheless, there are those around him who do not believe (1 Peter 2:7-8).  The same Christ is a stumbling block to the unbeliever.  The Christian will suffer on account of this (1 Peter 2:18-20).  Even though the unbeliever may speak evil of the Christian, the believer’s honorable conduct will stand as witness against these accusations (1 Peter 2:12).  And although the heathen may even persecute the Christian physically, the believer should overcome it with Christ-like endurance (1 Peter 2:19-20). 

Christian faith does not abolish God’s created order.  Nor is it as though the facts of the secular world are neutral for the Christian. For the Lord’s sake, we are to submit ourselves to “every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors sent by him to punish those who do evil…” (2 Peter 2:13-14).  Servants are to be subject to masters (1 Peter 2:18).  The theme continues into Chapter 3, with directions to wives, husbands, and all Christians.  Authority is God’s gift, and it reflects something of God himself. 

We are to “live as people who are free” while not using that freedom “as a cover-up for evil,” but instead as “servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16).  Again, we are redeemed not for anarchy, not for indulgence, not for comfort, not for selfishness, but to live decent, orderly, respectable, useful, and godly lives as sojourners here on earth.  We are to do this because it is godly.  We are to do this as witnesses.  We are to do this for the sake of conscience and for the sake of our faith (1 Peter 2:11). 

Today’s preacher has ample fodder here.  The number-one theme in pop-culture today just might be this: “be yourself, be unique, be an individual, be your own god, make your own laws, chose your own destiny, live for yourself.  Anyone or anything standing in the way of this should be thrown aside, bulldozed, trampled, despised as backward, scorned as ignorant, and exposed as oppressive.  Just let it all go and be who you are on the inside.” 

Christians—even preachers and their families—marinate in these messages.  The ugly fruits of these lies should be plain enough.  But doesn’t Satan make forbidden fruit look sweet?  He tempted Eve to want more than was given her.  He promised ungodly knowledge and ungodly freedom.  Instead, she got pain, death, and disharmony with her husband.  And Adam, forsaking his headship, now must contend with the earth as well as with the woman.  More on that in Chapter 3.

Lent Midweek Sermon Series: 1 Peter 1

There is a time to rejoice in God’s abundant earthly blessings.  There is a time to rest, a time to laugh, and a time to feast.  But there is also a season for reflection, for honest self-assessment, for recommitment to the more demanding aspects of our Christian walk.  Lent is just such a season.  The First Epistle of Peter reminds us that we are sojourners, and that we ought to “abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war” against our souls (1 Peter 2:11).  In light of Christ’s suffering, we should “live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions, but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:2).  This Epistle, at five chapters in length, could be preached as a midweek Lent sermon series. 

At the outset, Peter calls Christians “elect exiles” (1 Peter 1:1), not fully at home on this earth.  Everything under the sun is vanity (Ecc. 1:3).  All the glory of man is doomed to pass away (1 Peter 1:24).  The heathen go about in futility (1 Peter 1:18), sinful passions, and ignorance (1 Peter 1:14).  But we have been born again (1 Peter 1:3), ransomed (1 Peter 1:18), promised an inheritance (1 Peter 1:4), and are being guarded until the Last Day (1 Peter 1:5).  Peter builds on many of these teachings throughout the letter.   

Although we are not at home in this world, how we live here and now does matter for the Christian.  Jesus’ death, our faith, and our hope for things to come all inform the way we should think and live here and now.  It is not as though faith were merely a spiritual or otherworldly matter.  Although we wait for the full joys of heaven (1 Peter 1:4), though we long for the day when we will see Jesus (1 Peter 1:8), the Lord has called us for specific purposes in this life. 

The LORD ransomed Israel from Egypt at great cost.  The toll was tremendous destruction and loss of life for Egypt.  In memory of this, all the firstborn of Israel had to be redeemed (Ex. 34:19-20).  The Lord purchased Israel neither for libertinism nor for anarchy; he did not ransom them just so they could be free for freedom’s sake.  Rather, the LORD liberated them in order to worship him (Ex. 8:1), dwell with him (Ex. 15:13), be his (Ex. 19:4), to obey him (Ex. 24:7), and ultimately to raise up a prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15-18) and Abraham’s Seed, through whom the whole earth would be blessed.  conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile

Christians too are redeemed for specific purposes.  We are called to endure “various trials” (1 Peter 1:6).  These refine our faith, just as a furnace purges away impurity from gold.  Yet our faith is more precious than gold, which is doomed to perish along with this world (1 Peter 1:7; 24).  The heat may be unpleasant, but the result is beautiful.  Even in the midst of suffering, we should rejoice.  The trials are for our benefit and God’s glory.  We are not yet fully free from this world; we do not yet see Jesus face to face.  Thus the need for faith (Heb. 11:1).   

Christians are also called to holiness.  Rather than obeying passions, foolishness, and worldly mindsets, we are to be ready for action and sober minded in this life, and hopeful of future encounter with Jesus, rather earthbound in our thoughts (1 Peter 1:13).   Sinful passions tear apart Christian fellowship, and so we are called to lay these aside and instead love one another “earnestly, with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).     

Although everything under the sun perishes, rots, fails, disappoints, dies, and is forgotten, the word of God endures forever.  And since that same word which endures has kindled faith in our hearts, we Christians will also endure into eternity.  While we continue on our earthly pilgrimage, we are to hope in God, endure difficulty, live in love with others here on earth, resist the Devil, and praise God in all we do. 

The preacher can urge his hearers that whether they eat or drink, fast or abstain this Lent that they at least reflect upon their spiritual life. We are surrounded by the world’s comforts. It is easy to think we are at home here on earth. But since Christ has risen from the dead, our faith and hope are in God (1 Peter 1:21) and our true home is in heaven.