Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Secured in the Son—Jesus Christ (James 1:2c)

“…chosen according…by the sanctifying … to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” (1 Peter 1:2c, NASB95)

Coming to the end of verse 2 we find the third person of the Trinity, and that is the Son, Jesus Christ. Believers are chosen according to the infinitely complete knowledge of God the Father from before creation just as He intends or ordains. Our eyes are opened to Him by His Spirit and we are indwelt, enabled, and grown by the same Spirit who seals us until we enter His presence forever. Then, in these concluding words of verse two we see both the work of the Son who brought us back into a relationship with God and His promise to preserve us.

We read that we are to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood. The obvious implication here is that Peter’s audience is those who are the elect or called out ones who have believed and trusted in Christ for their salvation. Being in that position, this verse is a reminder of the secure state in which we rest and the response which we are to make. Peter reminds his readers that they are to obey Jesus Christ, who Himself was obedient to the Father to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, NASB95) Paul adds in Ephesians that these works are in accordance with the will of the Father. He has an intent, and His intent is being carried out through us obeying. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 1 Paul commends his readers, reminding them of the power by which they were saved and of their Lord who they imitate. He wrote of them being an example to other believers as they saw the faith demonstrated by the way they lived growing from the hope they had.

"(4) knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; (5) for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. (6) You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, (7) so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. (8) For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. (9) For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, (10) and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:4–10, NASB95)

It doesn’t take much of a read of Scripture to find that we are to obey God. This was His intent from the beginning even when He gave instructions to Adam in the garden. God continually spoke to  and directed His people as we see demonstrated in the commandments He gave through Moses. Through Moses He spoke to His people Israel and gave them a promise which was conditioned on their obedience. ““Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. “Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him. “But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.”” (Exodus 23:20–22, NASB95) God promised to clear a land for them as His people, but He expected them to do just as He was instructing them.

Then in the next chapter we read, "(3) Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!” (4) Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. (5) He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD. (6) Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. (7) Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” (8) So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”” (Exodus 24:3–8, NASB95)

God had made a promise and He sealed it with the blood of animals. The people would inherit the promise if they obeyed the ordinances of God. The people responded in unison saying, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!” And then they had half of the blood of an offering sprinkled on the altar and the other on them with the words, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Speaking of this first covenant, in Hebrews we read, "(18) Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. (19) For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, (20) saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” (21) And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. (22) And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:18–22, NASB95) This was how the people came before God before Christ to confess their sin and seek His forgiveness. But we know that this sacrifice and the accompanying sprinkling was not perfect, but pointed to the Perfect One who would come and make the once and forever sacrifice for sin.

This is what we read earlier in Hebrews chapter 9. "(11) But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; (12) and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (13) For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, (14) how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (15) For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:11–15, NASB95) "… (26) But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:26, ESV)

The Jews of Peter’s audience would have known the significance of the sprinkling of blood, but the truth of that sprinkling was not limited to them. It applied to all who are saved. Unlike the animals who were brought unwittingly to be sacrificed, the Son of God with full knowledge gave Himself for us, shedding His blood to cover our sins and to being full and permanent forgiveness and life. We are not sealed by the blood of an animal, but by the blood of the Son of God. What man could offer back in the way of animal sacrifice pointed to what God did for us perfectly. We have been forever cleansed and called to obedience in response. It is not the other way around. There is nothing we could have ever done to earn God’s forgiveness. It is a gift to us from Him at a very high cost. But the great news is that as our high priest Jesus also lives and sits at the right hand of the Father as the head of His church providing direction for our lives and interceding on our behalf. This is the promise of God, and He will not break it.

Establishing the foundation of these truths, Peter went on to say, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” (1 Peter 1:2d, ESV) Peter began both of his letters with these words, “may grace and peace be multiplied….” The 1995 New American Standard translation quoted at the beginning of the post doesn’t read the same, as it rewords the original Greek while preserving its meaning. Most modern translations, such as the English Standard Version, the New King James (and old), and the older New American Standard treat both 1 and 2 Peter 1:2 the same when it comes to these words. Grace and peace were a common salutation. We see the apostle Paul use this as well, where he frequently would have near the beginning of his letters “grace to you and peace from….” The idea is that they would experience the fullness of God’s grace extended to them and that they might be able to walk at peace with the peace that they received from God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. “to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7, NASB95) Intricately linked together is the gift and the result of living in the assurance of that gift. The two are inseparable, and they are each founded in the truth that God has chosen us according to His perfect eternal plan through the power of the Spirit by the work of His Son.

Grace is a gift, and living according to that grace brings peace.

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