Today, we will begin reading the two epistles (that is letters) written by Peter. Peter is my favorite apostle. Is it weird to have a favorite apostle? I love his exuberance, even when it led him to be embarrassed, he acted first in his passion for Jesus. That exuberance is described in the story of Jesus’ appearing to the disciples after His resurrection. Peter, Thomas, James, John and two other disciples were fishing without any luck. Jesus appeared on the shore and told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. The fishermen did not recognize Him at first, but they did as He suggested and pulled in more fish than should have been possible. The story continues in John 21:7.
That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.
Peter jumped in first and trusted God for the rest. I tend to that and like Peter sometimes I end up all wet. But Jesus was waiting for him on the shore with a great job and a description of the amazing changes He would make in His friend (John 21:9-19). Peter is often remembered for the mistakes he made, but the legacy he left the church is not his denial of Christ. The legacy he left for us, is in his assertion that Jesus is the Christ.
When Jesus found Peter, he was a lively and hardworking fisherman (Matthew 4:18-22). He was the first to proclaim Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-20). Although eleven of the twelve disciples abandoned Jesus on the night of his arrest, Peter’s denial was most remembered. His highs were soaring and his lows were plummeting. But Peter’s future was not based on the mistakes of his past, it was based on his love, passion, and commitment for Jesus. Peter’s hope was founded on Jesus Christ and the awesome work of the Holy Spirit. Believer, your future isn’t based on the mistakes of your past, but on the hope of Jesus Christ. You are born again, you are new.
This first letter from Peter begins with verses 1-2
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 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.
We are being sanctified, that is made holy like Jesus by the Holy Spirit. God has known from before we were born who we would be and what we would go through. He has never left us, He will never leave us, no matter how great our mistakes, how devastating our sins. He loves us and sticks with us in order to make us into who we were meant to be, who He knows we are.
God does not define us by our mistakes. He did not define Simon Peter by his wavering temperament, He called him Peter, the Rock! God changed him from vacillating boisterous Simon into steadfast passionate Peter. How does God see you? I promise you Believer, He doesn’t see you as the sins, mistakes, and character flaws the enemy wants you to suppose about yourself. He sees you as His righteous child, a new creation. Verses 3-9 read,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! 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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 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, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Our future is not in question and cannot be taken away from us. Our names, our true identities are written in the Book of Life and cannot be blotted out. Revelation 3:5 reads,
The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
We go through some really difficult times on this earth, none of what we go through can take away our eternity or make us back into who we used to be. The enemy will call you names, he’ll accuse you of every sin he can to try and take away your hope, but it is being guarded by The LORD God. God allows all that bad stuff to refine you and make you even more like Jesus. We can even find reasons to celebrate the bad stuff because Jesus.
Throughout the ages, people have suffered for Jesus, even before He was born in Bethlehem. What the prophets went through was for God’s glory and our benefit! We don’t remember them for their shortcomings but for who God made them to be. We remember their identities in Christ, not their identities in the world. When you think of Elisha, do you remember the bald man who unleashed a she-bear to kill a bunch of bullying kids? (2 Kings 2:23-25). I doubt it. Likely you remember the man who did miracle after miracle for the Lord, who had a double portion of God’s Spirit (2 Kings 2:9-14). Our new identities are not for us alone, it is for God’s glory, for the lost to come to know Jesus. Verses 10-12 read,
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
The Spirit of Christ was in the prophets and they told Israel and us about Jesus. He comes into us today too, not to leave us as we were but to change us, sanctify and make us new. Why? So we too can preach the Gospel, not by our own power but by The Holy Spirit. That is not nothing! The angels long know some of what The Holy Spirit says to us.
It is a big deal to be born again. It’s huge to live as our new selves with this unshakable hope. So much of why we can endure the suffering we do is because we know the truth. We know who Jesus is, we know our future, and we know that even in the here and now, we are not like the world. We are citizens of Heaven. In Philippians 3:20-21 Paul said,
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
That is our future and that is how we endure. That is how we point the world to Salvation in Jesus Christ. We were once lost. We were once sinners and slaves to the prince of the world. But that is not who we are anymore. Our lives should show it! Verses 13-19 read,
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
We are here for such a short time when you compare it to eternity. Our childhood, our time on this earth is a flash. People love to say YOLO, “you only live once” as an excuse to do whatever they want. We do only live once, but that life is eternal! Perhaps we should use YOLO to live for Christ and die to ourselves. Perhaps we should love people like Jesus loves them and show them who they can be instead of who they think they are doomed to be. Jesus can be their Redeemer. He has always been the one and only way to salvation. Verses 20-25 read,
He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
Believer, you only have this one short life to live on earth. Who will you be? Will you be who Satan has accused you of being? Or will you choose to live in the glory of God as who He has made you to be? Will you be the sinner or the saint?