I recently began a sermon series on 1st Peter at Fairview Baptist Church. This is an excerpt from the first sermon in the series. To listen or watch the whole thing, visit our website.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” (1 Peter 1:1-2)
At first glance, this seems to be a customary greeting for a New Testament letter. However, there is beautiful theological depth in every sentence of these first two verses.
Peter categorizes the recipients of this letter as God’s chosen people, spiritual exiles who are scattered throughout the world. Notice that Peter starts this letter by immediately celebrating the work of God in their salvation. They are elect exiles according to God’s foreknowledge.
Peter is not using these words to stir up a theological controversy. These words have the affectionate action of God wrapped in them. God’s has decidedly shown his favor and affection towards them in salvation.
To a church facing struggles and persecution, this greeting is a powerful reminder of reassurance. You are God’s people according to His foreknowledge!
Moreover, He has sanctified them according to His Spirit. Set apart by the Spirit, namely, for obedience to Jesus Christ no matter what circumstance life may bring. Therefore, God has not only called them out, but has also separated them out for His purposes.
Christians who are troubled by their circumstances might be tempted to doubt God’s love and care. In the midst of an uncertain and hostile world – we can rest in the certainty of the love of a sovereign God.
Don’t ever lose the wonder of your salvation. Salvation is a miraculous work of our Trinitarian God. The Father foreknows. The Spirit sanctifies. The Son cleanses. This is the ultimate foundation for our hope and encouragement.
It is no wonder that Peter then says (v.2), “Grace and peace be multiplied” to you.
What a greeting! Do not worry about the uncertainty of your circumstances, but rest in the certainty that God has called you. Moreover, God has sanctified you for a purpose.