The Foundation of our Faith – 1 Peter 1:1-2

Peter is the most well-known apostle of Jesus Christ. He is writing this epistle to believers who are scattered throughout the various regions of the Roman world. The believers are identified as ‘strangers.’ In other words, as believers in the Lord Jesus, we are strangers and pilgrims in this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. We do not belong here. Though the major purpose of Peter’s letter was to encourage believers to stay faithful in the midst of persecution, the most severe persecution had not yet begun when this letter was written sometime in the A.D. 60’s. This is a very timely book for us today as persecution of believers is on the rise all around the world. There is coming a day when we may be called upon to give our very lives for our faith. How can we prepare ourselves for such persecution? Peter uses the example of the sufferings of Jesus as the cornerstone of his encouragement to believers. This first epistle of Peter is very timely. Its message applies to believers from every generation. There is much to learn from this great book of the Bible.

After his initial greetings in verse one, Peter begins by addressing his audience according to who they are in Christ. Verse two is one of the most profound doctrinal statements in all of scripture and provides for us answers as to the foundation of our faith. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”

The basis of our faith. The basis of our faith as described in our text is two-fold. The first thing we see concerning the basis of our faith is election. The doctrine of election is one of the most difficult doctrines to understand and one of the most misunderstood doctrines of our faith. The term ‘elect’ is the Greek word ‘ekletos’ which basically means to choose. Specifically, it means to choose for a specific task or purpose. Careful study of scripture reveals that there are three basic things that God has elected. (1) God elected a plan. The plan of God is none other than the saving of mankind. It is His redemptive plan. This plan of redemption is like a crimson thread that runs through the pages of scripture. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” It is within the will and plan of God that all people would repent and come to faith in Christ. This being the plan of God, He sent His Son, Jesus, to atone for the sins of the world on the cross of Calvary. Christ fulfilled the plan of God by providing a way for all to be reconciled to God. Everything that God does is so that His plan would be fulfilled. In every dispensation of time, we see God working to reconcile the world unto Himself. This plan of God comes from the very heart of God. It is driven by His great love for those He created in His own image. (2) God elected a nation. God made a promise to Abraham that ‘through his seed, all the nations of the earth will be blessed.’ What is really meant by this promise? This promise was fulfilled in Jesus. Through God’s chosen nation of Israel, the whole world is given a Savior. Since God elected the nation of Israel as the vehicle through which salvation is made possible to all the world, He will finish what He started. He will keep every promise that He has made to the nation of Israel. (3) God elected a people. In the context of 1 Peter 1:2, Peter is basically identifying those he is writing to. He is writing to the ‘elect.’ Throughout the pages of scripture we see God electing a people. God chose the nation of Israel to be the people through which the Savior would come. In this dispensation of grace, or the church age, God has elected the church as His people through which He carries out His work in this world. Peter, therefore, is simply declaring the fact that he is writing to the church, in other words, he is writing to believers in Christ. All of those who come to faith in Christ are a part of God’s elect people, the church. It is interesting to note that every time the idea of election is used in scripture it always refers to the election of a group of people. It is not consistent with scripture to say that God elects individuals for salvation and other individuals for condemnation. To believe in such a view brings in to question the very character of God. Scripture reveals that God elected to bring a way of salvation to a world that is cursed by sin. He thus elected a particular nation through which He would bring the Savior that would free the world from the curse of sin. God has then elected the church, the body of Christ made up all those who freely receive God’s free gift of grace through Jesus, to be the means through which God’s redemptive work is carried out in this age. Peter, in our text, is writing to the church, the body of Christ. As we continue in our study, Peter gives practical instructions on how the church should live and carry out the work that God has elected them for especially in days of persecution.

The second thing we see concerning the basis of our faith is foreknowledge. The word ‘foreknowledge’ means to foreknow or to know ahead of time. However, in scripture the word ‘foreknowledge’ has a much deeper meaning. It is not just to know ahead of time, but it is to know ahead of time with a purpose. God knew that man would fall. God knew that He would need to provide a way of salvation for man. Therefore, in God’s divine sovereignty, He purposely chose to provide a plan to ensure the opportunity for every soul to be saved. Thus, he elected a plan, nation, and a people. This was no reaction to what God foresaw. It was a purposeful plan conceived in the mind of God before the foundation of the world. This is why we can say that God loved us before He even creates us. This is why we can say that God had a plan for us and a purpose for us even before we were born. This is why we can say that God desires that all should be saved. This is why we can say that if you were the only person on the planet, God still would have sent His Son to die just for you.

The sustaining of our faith. Our faith is based on God’s election according to foreknowledge. The sustaining of our faith is according to sanctification and obedience. (1) Sanctification. The word ‘sanctification’ comes from the Greek word ‘hagiasmos’. It means it be set-apart or consecrated. Our faith is sustained by our sanctification. When you accepted Christ as your Savior, you are then sanctified or ‘set-apart’ as a part of God’s elect people, the church. This ‘setting-apart’ guarantees our salvation. Once we have been taken out of the bondage of sin and ‘set-apart’ as an ambassador of Jesus, then there is no going back. This is such a beautiful thing when the light bulb comes on and we finally get it! Remember, the word ‘election’ refers to being divinely chosen for a specific task or purpose. God has chosen the church to the specific task or purpose of bringing the Gospel to the world as ambassadors of Jesus. Therefore, the moment you accept Christ as your Savior, you are then ‘set-apart’ as a member of the church, God’s elect, for the sole purpose of being an ambassador of Jesus to the world. In addition to this initial sanctification, God is working in you in order to conform you into the image of Jesus Christ. This is what we call progressive sanctification. God is using the various circumstances of your life in conjunction with the cleansing power of the Word in order to mold you and shape you to be just like Jesus. This progressive sanctification is how God enables us to be Jesus to the world, to be His ambassadors. We can rest assure that God always finishes what He starts. He has begun a good work in you and He will continue to work in you until that day when you are completely made to be just like Jesus. Mark it down, as a believer in Christ, He will sustain you, He will never let you go, you will always belong to Him; why? Because He has sanctified you and is continuing to sanctify you! Therefore, when we are faced with persecution, we need not fear. We need not worry, because God will sustain us. He will finish what He started. Romans 8:29 reminds us that our sanctification will be complete, because God has predestined it to be so. God has predetermined that all who come to faith in the Lord Jesus will one day be made to be just like Jesus! That is why nothing, not even the sword of persecution, not even death, can separate us from the love of God. (2) Obedience. Not only does sanctification sustain our faith, but also obedience. In our text, it says that we are ‘elected according to the foreknowledge of God through sanctification unto obedience’. The sanctification that sustains our faith produces a life of obedience. We are sanctified or ‘set-apart’ unto obedience. What are we to be obedient to? We are to be obedient to our purpose as God’s elect. What has God elected us for? He has elected us for the proclamation of the Gospel. Therefore, though we may face persecution, though our very lives may be in danger, we must be obedient in spreading the Gospel message around the world, because that is exactly what God elected the church to do. The fulfillment of this purpose is exactly why God in His sovereignty allowed the ‘strangers’ or ‘pilgrims’ to be scattered. They were scattered in order that the Gospel would go forth throughout the entire world. There is a lesson to be learned here. Sometimes, God will allow Christians to be persecuted in order that the Gospel would prevail. As you study history and also current events, you will find that in the greatest times of persecution it is also the greatest times of evangelism. As believers in Christ, we have been elected by God for the sole purpose of the proclamation of the Gospel according to the foreknowledge of God, activated through the sanctification of the believer so that we may be obedient to do the very thing that God has elected us to do.

The power of our faith. As we examine the foundation of our faith, not only do we see the basis of our faith and the sustaining of our faith, but we also see the power of our faith. The power of our faith is none other than the blood of Jesus. It is by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus that we have the power to live out our purpose as God’s elect even in the midst of persecution. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “One living in obedience is constantly being cleansed with Christ’s blood and is thus “set apart” from the world.”[1] Our ability to carry out our task as God’s elect is found in the continual cleansing power of the blood of Jesus. There is power in the blood. It is the power to cleanse and to keep us. It is a power that can never be lost or destroyed. Once you are under the blood, its power will never leave you. Therefore, no matter what you face, no matter how difficult the trial and persecution, you have the power to overcome.

In order to have the courage to face persecution, we must remind ourselves of the foundation of our faith. It is in understanding who we are that we are able to face whatever may come our way. We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ elected by God according to His foreknowledge sustained by sanctification unto obedience empowered by the blood of Jesus. It is in knowing who we are that we are able to stand strong even when there is a sword to our necks or a gun to our heads.

[1] Raymer, R. M. (1985). 1 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 840). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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