Sunday, January 25, 2015

Elect, Pilgrims and Saints

elect pilgrim saint

Reading: First Peter 1:1-12

The Church in Asia Minor was undergoing persecution, especially under Nero.  The terrible persecution of Christians led to some turning back on or at least question their faith. It was at this time that the great Apostle Peter wrote a letter to the believers. It was a source of great encouragement. You can imagine their excitement when the letter got to them:

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied”

What a comfort to know that they have been chosen as the special recipients of God’s redeeming grace. He was reminding them that since they were aliens and pilgrims in this world, they had no right to expect life to be a continual “bed of roses”. Then he spoke to them of the sanctification of the Spirit – set apart as saints of God.

The words must have been greatly encouraging; in fact, this entire epistle is filled with hope, promise, and help for suffering Christians.

For more on suffering, read: After a while the Brook dried up

We will today like to discuss only verses one and two of this Chapter. In subsequent talks we shall look at other issues raised in the Epistle.

Peter begins his letter with three identifying marks of the Christian; he is a sojourner (pilgrim) in this world, the elect of God, and a saint. When suffering opposition and oppression, one can easily become confused and lose perspective. As God’s children we can keep our identity in clear focus by seeing ourselves, even during great trials, as elect, pilgrims  and saints.  

The Christian is an Elect of God

What does it mean to be an Elect of God? It all depends on God’s foreknowledge See Ephesians 4:4-5; Romans 8:20-30

One might want to conclude from these verses that:

-- God elected some to be saved

-- His election was not based upon any merit He saw in man but grounded entirely in His good pleasure

-- This election took place in eternity past, before the worlds were created.

-- God’s election is “according to His foreknowledge”

If this is all the truth, why then do we preach the gospel? Why witness since those who must be saved will eventually be saved?

On the other hand, the Bible also teaches man’s individual responsibility to believe and be saved. (See John 3:16; Romans 10:13; Revelation 22:17)

Both ideas come together in a single verse in John 6:37: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”

For more on this, here is one article: Freewill versus Election

What a joy to know that God knew me before the creation of the world and no matter what problems there are, I am His.

The Christian is a Pilgrim

In this world are citizens of heaven. We are here temporarily and our face is set towards our heavenly homeland (See Philippians 3:20-21; Hebrews 13:14). The old spiritual song is “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” As pilgrims we are walking by faith through foreign land, keeping in mind our heavenly citizenship and eternal home. As aliens we would not be surprised when this world treats us with hostility. We really do not belong here. Our sights are set on heaven.

The Christian is a Saint

The third description of the Christian is as saints- people set apart by the Holy Spirit for God. We belong to God and are thus separated unto:

a.  Obedience: as Christ set us an example Philippians 2:8 – obedience to the laws of our land of pilgrimage and our heavenly home.

b.   Cleansing through the Blood: We should daily ensure that we are cleansed through confession of sins – First John 1:9

Daily cleansing is a blessed privilege and keeps the relationship between the believer and God at the sweetest and highest level. Sin disrupts the Christian’s fellowship with God. It is not our salvation that is put in danger when we sin, but our communion with the Lord.

If you have never received Jesus Christ, don’t make the mistake of saying; “well God has chosen those that would be saved”. The Bible today extends an invitation to you in Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  That offer is for you. Believe it today and you will enter into all the Spiritual riches indicated by the words: elect, pilgrims and saints.

God bless you all.

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