Hope Because of How Long God Has Cared for Us

Dr. Rob Green January 15, 2023 1 Peter 1:1-2
Outline

3 truths about God’s care

I. God Works in and Through You Despite Your Imperfections

1 Peter 1:1 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ…

2 Chronicles 7:3 - …Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.

II. God Knows All Your Circumstances

1 Peter 1:1 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…

“When the city of Rome burned in July, A.D. 64 the Romans believed that their Emperor, Nero, had set the city on fire, probably because of his incredible lust to build. In order to build more, he had to destroy what already existed.

The Romans were totally devastated. Their culture, in a sense, went down with the city. All the religious elements of their life were destroyed - their great temples, shrines, and even their household idols were burned up. This had great religious implications because it made them believe that their deities had been unable to deal with this conflagration and were also victims of it. The people were homeless and helpless. Many had been killed. Their bitter resentment was severe, so Nero realized that he had to redirect the hostility.

The emperor’s chosen scapegoat was the Christians, who were already hated because they were associated with the Jews, and because they were seen as being hostile to the Roman culture. Nero spread the word quickly that the Christians had set the fires. As a result, a vicious persecution against Christians began, and soon spread throughout the Roman empire, touching places north of the Taurus mountains, like Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, and impacting the Christians, whom Peter calls “pilgrims”. These “pilgrims” were probably Gentiles for the most part, possibly led to Christ by Paul and his associates, and established on Paul’s teachings. But they needed spiritual strengthening because of their sufferings. Thus the apostle Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote this epistle to strengthen them.” (MacAurthur Study Bible)

III. God Decided Long Ago to Bring You into a Saving Relationship with Him.

1 Peter 1:1-2 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: may grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Isaiah 55:8-9 - For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Romans 10:13 - Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

2 Peter 2:9 - The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Jeremiah 19:9 - The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?

Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

Romans 3:10 - There is none righteous, no not one.

Ephesians 2:1 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.

A. According to His choice and His foreknowledge

1 Peter 1:1-2 - …chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…

Romans 8:28-29 - And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren…

Ephesians 1:4-6 - …just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

B. By the work of the Holy Spirit

1 Peter 1:2 - according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit…

C. With two wonderful results

1 Peter 1:1-2 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: may grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

1. We obeyed the gospel and are positioned to obey Christ

Acts 17:30-31 - Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.

2. He sprinkled us with the blood of His Son

Acts 20:28 - …the church of God which He purchased with His own blood

Last week Pastor Viars revealed the annual theme: Hope for Everyday Life.

This suggests that there may be times when we struggle having hope. When I think about the word “hope” a couple thoughts comes to mind.

  1. Hope for what?

I suppose there are a lot of things I would like to see …

(1) I would like to see my retirement funds recover from the beat down over the last year or so …

(2) I would like to see a period of growth in my life and in those closest to me …

(3) I would like to see more people placing their faith in Christ.

Any of us could list 10-20 things we would like to see happen this year. 10-20 things we hope will occur.

But really our hope is broader than that. Our hope (positive belief in the future) is … That God does exactly that which results in his glory and our good.

I cannot possibly know what this year will hold. I have some ideas on what I think the Lord wants me to accomplish this year, but I do not know what will happen tomorrow.

In 2016 I had the opportunity to publish a book called Tying the Knot. It helps prepare couples for married life. One of my friends, John Henderson, wrote my favorite endorsement. He said, “No one on earth truly knows what you will face in marriage—not in the details at least. Endless are the possible joys and pains, the trials and circumstances, the sins and graces, the shifts and surprises, the people who will come and go. Everything will change.”

What a great word. We cannot possibly know all that the future holds. But I do know and have hope – a positive outlook on the future – because I believe that God will do exactly that which results in his glory and our good.

That raises a second issue regarding the annual theme …

  1. Hope in who?

We all have track records. I believe it was Charles Spurgeon who once was asked, how do you handle criticism? He said, “I try to learn from it while giving thanks knowing that I am far worse than the other person knows.”

What a great comment. Our hope does not rest in ourselves nor in any other human being or group of humans.

  • Our positive outlook on the future rests in the God of the universe. In the God who told us that he is gracious and compassionate, abounding in lovingkindness and truth, who forgives iniquities to the 1000th generation.

This hope for everyday life means that we believe God is good and that he always does exactly that which brings him glory and us good.

  1. Everyday life

This acknowledges that we live most of our lives in the mundane. Most of us live very average lives seeking to steward a very small portion of God’s world. While we may not do anything earth shattering, our lives are important. My everyday life might mean very little in the year 2100 or in the middle of Japan today. But my everyday life matters to me.

This year we decided acknowledge these realities and spend our year talking about Hope for Everyday life.

We decided that best way to start our theme was a verse by verse exposition of 1 Peter. Please turn with me to 1 Peter. That’s on page 180 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

This book is many believers’ favorites. It is chock full of powerful portraits of God’s work and character. It is hopeful for believers because of who God is and what he does. We often rally at the cross and see how Christ makes a difference in the face of suffering.

We are challenging our entire church family, regardless of campus, to make it a habit of reading the book of I Peter from beginning to end each week.

  • that will take 15-20 minutes, but it will help glean more from the messages.

This morning, I have the privilege of preaching on the first two verses. Please follow along as I read. This is the Word of the Lord. The title of this message is Hope Because of How Long God Has Cared for Us. Wow! Do you mean to tell me that God cared for me before I knew anything about him? In fact, we are going to see three truths about God’s care.

I. God Works in and Through You Despite Your Imperfections.

How often do you fail? How often is it obvious that you have character issues?

  • You struggle with your anger
  • Lust gets the upper hand on a given day
  • Worry cripples you
  • Your inadequacies bring hardship on those you love.

How often do you say that God will use someone else?

I fear that we might have people who come to this campus who never visit faithlafayette.org/serve because they do not believe they can bring anything to the table.

God cannot use me. If you knew about me, what I know about me, then you would agree.

Dear friend, I suggest to you that all it takes is one word in verse 1 to demonstrate my point. One little word that shouts God works in and through you despite your imperfections.

It is the word … Peter.

When we read the Bible, especially introductions, we often glance at them and move on. Off we go to other issues.

Yet, the word Peter evokes his entire story. In Bible study we call this antecedent theology. It means that what came before helps us understand something now.

When we see the word Peter, it reminds us of the man, his life, his story, and his ministry.

It doesn’t take too much digging before we remind ourselves of Peter. Sometimes he got it right … “You are the Christ the son of the living God.” Bam! Nailed it! But shortly thereafter, “Get behind me Satan.” Ouch!

Peter says he would never deny Jesus. There is a principled man ready to act courageously. During the arrest, he attempts to kill someone (thankfully he just cut off his ear). But a few hours later he is denying Jesus.

After Jesus is raised, he meets Peter and the other disciples. Jesus gives them marching orders and Peter is on it. But he also wants to know what will happen to John.

I relate to that. It seems that for everything I really get right, I get something else wrong.

But did God use Peter? Wow! He did so in amazing ways. You know Peter’s original name was Simon or Simeon. Jesus gave him the name Peter which means rock or stone.

You might be able to argue that Jesus gave him the name rock because that is what God wanted to accomplish in his life…

  • He was taking him from being an impulsive, unpredictable, tempestuous man, and turning him into a rock.
  • One who wrote one of the most beautiful letters in the Bible.

Friends, think about this … it would not have been in anyone’s best interest for Peter to be left where he was born, doing what came naturally (fishing), around the people of his industry.

Jesus called Peter to be one of his disciples, and he literally turned his situation upside down and inside out because He had a work to accomplish in Peter’s life.

  • And it was a work in progress that included the revelation of all kinds of failures, inconsistencies, misstatements…and various actions and reactions that Peter would regret….

But amid all of that --- there was a God actively working. The Lord tells believers in Jesus that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ. We can believer that God’s grace saved us to do the good work he established for us.

You are not perfect and neither am I. We can let our imperfections be a reason to shy away from involvement, ministry, service, and active care. OR we can believe that God has work established for us.

Let me be transparent for a moment. I have been on the pastoral staff here at Faith for the last 17 years. God has done amazing things here. Many of them I have had the privilege of seeing. I have also felt the weight of the ministry success. More success has brought more work, harder situations, the need for more courage, and growth in wisdom in word and deed.

  • I have had moments of intense inadequacy. Moments where I genuinely wondered whether I should look for a different ministry. Not because I wanted one, but because I viewed myself as the weak link. Somehow my tin link was connected to other links of hardened steel.

Thankfully the Lord dealt with my self pity. Reminded that of course I was not competent for the ministry. I was not here because I was awesome. I was here because God put me here … with all my inadequacies, fears, doubts, struggles, and failures.

Do you see what comes next …

1 Peter 1:1 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ…

The tone of this letter is not, “I am Peter and I am a big deal.” He reminds his reader that he was a messenger for Christ to bring God’s message to a troubled people.

It was Christ and his Word that called, changed, converted Peter from what he was at the beginning to the man God used to write this letter.

It is passages like this that turn my fears, doubts, struggles, and inadequacies to courage, effort, and a confidence in God that he is planning to complete his work in me and in you until the day of Christ … just as he did for Peter.

Friends, as you grow closer to Jesus, your failures, weaknesses, and inadequacies will be all the more clear, but so will his love, grace, care, and calling. They go together.

We do not want you to miss the opportunities where God works in you.

  • Pastor Viars mentioned last Sunday to make it a commitment to share the gospel with at least one person this year.
  • Maybe it is time to invite that neighbor or co-worker to services.
  • Maybe it is time to take that next step in community (with ABF … these are partially for ministry purposes)
  • Maybe it is time to take that next step in service.

If you have fears, doubts, and a sense of inadequacy, then join the club. Let’s do our best for Jesus together.

One of the summary comments God’s people have used throughout biblical history to encapsulate God’s character is… 2 Chronicles 7:3 - …Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

The Lord using Peter in this way screams the message that was true for him…and it screams the message that it’s true for us…God is ready to work in and through you despite your imperfections…

A second principle that comes out of our text is that:

II. God Knows All Your Circumstances.

1 Peter 1:1 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…

Uhh… how does this relate to knowing all our circumstances. In order to get there, let’s consider the locations associated with these names.

I have 3 maps to show.

  • The first one shows Rome [to the left] and Jerusalem to the right. This is important because we believe Peter was probably writing from here.
  • The second and third narrow our scope to what is today Turkey. But Peter could not say to all who reside as aliens in Turkey. He had to explain the names of the various territories.

Why does the Bible describe these people as aliens scattered throughout the entire region?

Well, the answer is that these dear folks were living during the persecution of Nero that followed the burning of Rome. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the MacArthur Study Bible that should help.

When the city of Rome burned in July, A.D. 64 the Romans believed that their Emperor, Nero, had set the city on fire, probably because of his incredible lust to build. In order to build more, he had to destroy what already existed.

The Romans were totally devastated. Their culture, in a sense, went down with the city. All the religious elements of their life were destroyed—their great temples, shrines, and even their household idols were burned up. This had great religious implications because it made them believe that their deities had been unable to deal with this conflagration and were also victims of it. The people were homeless and helpless. Many had been killed. Their bitter resentment was severe, so Nero realized that he had to redirect the hostility.

The emperor’s chosen scapegoat was the Christians, who were already hated because they were associated with the Jews, and because they were seen as being hostile to the Roman culture. Nero spread the word quickly that the Christians had set the fires. As a result, a vicious persecution against Christians began, and soon spread throughout the Roman empire, touching places north of the Taurus mountains, like Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, and impacting the Christians, whom Peter calls “pilgrims”. These “pilgrims” were probably Gentiles for the most part, possibly led to Christ by Paul and his associates, and established on Paul’s teachings. But they needed spiritual strengthening because of their sufferings. Thus the apostle Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote this epistle to strengthen them.

Reading words like this reminded me of Ukraine. If God inspired a person to write to the Ukrainian believers it might sound something like, “to all who reside as aliens, throughout Russia, Europe, Scandinavia, and the United States…”

There is a sense in which all of us are aliens. Our eternal home is in heaven for believers are citizens of heaven. We long for the kingdom.

Being an alien or foreigner feels, at times, like you do not belong. I am not an experienced traveller but I have done enough to know that leaving the US always creates a little unease.

It would not be hard for these displaced believers to wonder whether God forgot about them. When this letter came it would be a visible reminder that the Lord knew exactly where they were, what they were experiencing, and what words they needed to hear.

  • God wanted his people to hear his message for them.
  • What a relief
  • What joy
  • Possibly even what conviction for those who grumbled, lost hope, or started to compromise their faith.

I mentioned all your circumstances for a reason. The book does not end in 1 Peter 1:2. The Lord knows not only where these displaced believers settled, but he also fully understands their struggles.

  • He knows about their suffering and speaks to it.
  • He knows about their family problems and their struggle to understand their roles and speaks to it.
  • He knows about their work struggles, the challenge with authority, the commitment to shepherd well, etc.
  • He knows it all.

The Lord knows that about me too. He is always watching. We never leave his gaze. He is the God who always sees. He knows where you live and what is happening around you. The joys, struggles, trials, difficulties.

I have noticed, and maybe you have as well, that God knows how to get his Word to your mind at the right time.

  • You turn on the radio and the song playing was tailor made for you.
  • You come to church and someone encourages you.
  • You listen to a message and it is like the speaker that day was in your living room.

God cares because he will use you to accomplish his will and purposes. God also cares because he knows all about your circumstances and provides a word to address our hearts.

There is one more very important principle of God’s care in this passage…

III. God Decided Long Ago to Bring You into a Saving Relationship with Him.

1 Peter 1:1–2 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

This passage is one of the many places in the Bible that speaks about the doctrine of election.

When this topic occurs in the Bible it is often in contexts designed to encourage, help, and strengthen us.

We know this idea is hard to understand. In fact, no one fully understands. That should not be overly surprising. God is not like us.

Isa 55:8-9 – For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

In context, this speaks of God’s willingness to forgive. He forgives when we wouldn’t. We have an upper limit on the amount someone can hurt us before we are done with them. God is not like that. It is amazingly good. He does things differently --- like forgive. Even if we cannot understand all of it, it doesn’t mean we should reject it all.

Let’s notice on the one hand, the Scripture makes it clear that salvation is a decision that a human being makes at a particular point in time.

  • Romans 10:13 – Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
  • John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
  • 2 Peter 2:9 - The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

In each one of these passages and many more, salvation is a decision that a human being makes at a particular point in time.

  • That is why we are constantly saying in various ministry formats that one needs to acknowledge sin, repent, and trust in the finished work of Jesus.
  • That is your choice.

On the other hand, we notice what the Bible teaches about the nature of our hearts:

  • Jeremiah 19:9 – The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?
  • Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  • Romans 3:10 – There is none righteous, no not one.
  • Ephesians 2:1 – And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.

Left on our own, you and I would never choose Christ. We were dead in trespasses and sins…dead people don’t move anywhere, and certainly not in a direction that produces new life.

  • Therefore, apart from God sovereignly working in our hearts and lives, we would have never come to Christ.

How do we bring these ideas together?

I like the illustration of thinking about this like a doorway, that appears to be different, depending on your perspective.

  • From the entry side of the door, the doorway reads “whoever wants to come shall enter”
  • However, when we walk through that doorway, when we come to trust Christ as savior and Lord and look at the door from the other side, it reads “chosen before the foundation of the world.”

If you want to read more deeply on this matter, there is a book called Divine Soverignty and Human Responsibility by D. A. Carson. He shows in the gospel of John that both God’s choice and Our choice are consistently taught.

When we think about God’s love and care from this perspective, we realize not only that God loves us, but also that He’s loved us for a long time. The text says…

A. According to His choice and His foreknowledge

God wanted these persons (and us) to remember amid all their circumstances that they had been…

1 Peter 1:1–2 - …chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…

I mentioned that this truth occurs elsewhere. It happens to occur is many other key New Testament passages:

Romans 8:28–29 - And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

Ephesians 1:4-6 - …just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Even if we cannot fully explain God’s mind regarding the balance between divine sovereignty and human responsibility in this matter, we still can affirm two principles …

1. No one who ever wanted to become a Christian was ever prevented from doing so

2. No one was ever forced to become a Christian who didn’t want to be…

Peter adds that this choosing occurred …

B. By the work of the Holy Spirit

1 Peter 1:2 - according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit…

A supernatural act of regeneration had to occur before Peter was willing and able to become a follower of Jesus Christ…he knew that to be the case…and the same is true for people like you and me…

  • That’s why all of this is the praise and glory of His grace…not of ours…
  • and that’s why people like us can have hope even as we struggle…

There are supernatural forces at work in all of this…

  • And there are supernatural resources available to us to handle whatever we’re facing well

Talk about hope for everyday life … notice what comes next. God’s choice and foreknowledge commissioned the Spirit’s work in us …

C. With two wonderful results

1 Peter 1:1–2 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

1. We obeyed the gospel and are positioned to obey Christ

That’s a very important concept…because the gospel isn’t simple a message to hear or a gift to receive – it’s also a command to be obeyed…

When the Spirit worked we ran to the Lord. We obeyed the gospel. We trusted in the D/B/R of Jesus for our salvation. We understood and went willingly.

Notice what Paul told the Athenians in Acts 17 - Acts 17:30–31 - Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Friends, to this point in the message I have assumed something. I assumed that you have repented and trusted Christ as your personal savior. I assumed that you heard the gospel message and you obeyed it.

But I know that I will speak to people in this auditorium today that have not made that decision.

  • Maybe it is a young person here because mom and dad make you come.
  • Maybe a friend or family member invited you.
  • Maybe you are here with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The gospel message is more than a gift that you can accept or reject. It is a message that must be obeyed. He will judge the world and he proved the message of the gospel through raising Christ from the dead.

  • You can pray right now.
  • You can talk with me or another pastor and we would be happy to sit with you.

If you know Christ, then your obedience to the gospel message itself positions you to respond appropriately to the other instructions still to come.

The second result is …

2. He sprinkled us with the blood of His Son

This is odd language. It is covenantal. There are several covenants in the Bible. When a covenant was made there was normally a ceremony involving blood. It was a picture of the forgiveness and cleansing offered. It allows us to be in covenant with God.

Obedience to the gospel and being sprinkled with his blood are the entry requirements for the covenant. God never breaks his covenants.

That provides everyday hope.

  • Hope that our service for Christ will be honoring to him
  • Hope that eternal destiny is secure based on the blood of Christ
  • Hope that he cares
  • Hope that he always does exactly what glorifies him and provides good to us.

Acts 20:28 - …the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

We belong to Jesus and it is through his sacrifice that we can live with a steadfast hope.

Authors

Dr. Rob Green

Roles

Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries - Faith Church

MABC Department Chair, Instructor - Faith Bible Seminary

Bio

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Dr. Rob Green joined the Faith Church staff in August, 2005. Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Pastor Green has authored, co-authored, and contributed to 9 books/booklets. Rob and his wife Stephanie have three children.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.