C. Thirst for the word of God.
In order to know what to do to walk obediently in the light, one must know where to walk. We must keep in mind that our fortitude against wickedness is conditioned on our obedience to the word of God. It is not within our power to determine our own steps (Jr 10:23). As citizens of God’s nation, we must continually “desire the sincere milk of the word so that” we may grow.2:2 If there is no growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, then spiritual death will soon come (2 Pt 3:18). We must, therefore, “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Mt 5:6). We must be as David described the true disciple: “… his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night” (Ps 1:2). As a disciple of Jesus, we must be able to say, “Your word I have hidden in my heart so that I might not sin against You” (Ps 119:11). If we lay up the word of God in our hearts, then the world will slide off. We will be able to resist the devil and he will flee.5:9 It is as James said, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Js 4:7).
D. Be a living example.
Each disciple has come “to Him [Christ] as to a living stone.”2:4 Peter reflected on that which revived their hope as Jesus’ first disciples. God “has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”1:3
Jesus Christ is not another head stone in a graveyard that marks the termination of so many self-proclaimed prophets. He is not as the crookedly cut stone that the builders would reject in building a building. On the contrary, He is the exact cornerstone from which the measurements of the building have been made. He is the “chief cornerstone” of all that we are as the house of God.2:6
Christians are the “living stones” who are being built up a spiritual house” by their spiritual measurement from the Chief Corner Stone.1:5 Those who measure themselves from the image of Jesus Christ, are offering unto God their lives as a reasonable response to the Sonship of Jesus (Rm 12:1). And thus, they have come to Jesus “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”1:5
In our offering, there can be no compromises. It is as someone said, “Compromise is always wrong when it means to sacrifice a principle.” We must not be like the young soldier during the American civil war of the nineteenth century who supposedly wanted to play it safe. So he dressed in the grey pants of the uniform of the Confederate Army of the south, but with the blue coat of the uniform of the Union Army of the north. The problem was that he was shot at by both sides in the conflict. When we make our sacrifice for Jesus, there must be no doubt as to which side of the mortal conflict we stand in our war against the forces of evil. Paul exhorted that every Christian “put on the whole armor of God …” (Ep 6:11). In doing so, we will “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ep 2:10).
During the historical times of the day, many false christs had arisen among the Jews in order to call the people to be patriotic in restoring the Jewish state as it was in the days of David. During His prophecy of the fall of the Jewish state, Jesus prophesied that self-proclaimed christs would come. He prophesied, “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ.’ And they will deceive many” (Mt 24:5). But Jesus warned, “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Lo, here is Christ,’ or ‘There,’ do not believe it” (Mt 24:23). Nevertheless, many did believe the self-proclaimed christs, and thus, they were greatly disappointed either when the self-proclaimed christs were killed in the Jewish wars against Rome, or when they were taken into captivity after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. But Peter reassured his readers that the true Living Stone will not disappoint them.2:6 He will be good for His promises.
The Living Stone that the rebellious Jews rejected (Jn 1:11), became “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”2:8 He became such to everyone who would not accept Him as the Christ sent from God. So “they stumbled, being disobedient to the word.”2:8 And when the word of the gospel is preached throughout the world today, the same rejection happens.
Peter did not mean in the statement, “to this they were appointed,” that God had predestined them to rejection. Such thinking would make God fiendish for allowing someone to be born into this world whom He had predestined to burn in hell against his own volition. The “appointed” were “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Rm 9:22) because they chose to rebel against the living God. God is not willing that any should perish, and thus the offer of the gospel of salvation is to all people (2 Pt 3:9). God has predestined the destruction that would come upon all those who would choose to reject the gospel, but He has not predestined anyone individually to reject the gospel. Therefore, if one chooses to reject Jesus Christ, then he becomes “appointed” to the destruction that God predestined would come upon all the disobedient (See 2 Th 1:6-9). If one rejects the gospel, then he has joined with those who are appointed to destruction.
But the obedient have become a part of the royal priesthood.2:9 They are the new holy nation.2:9 God “has called you unto His kingdom and glory” (1 Th 2:12). “God has not called us to impurity, but in holiness” (1 Th 4:7). He has called us into this royal priesthood through the preaching of the gospel (2 Th 2:14). It is the message of the gospel that calls individuals into making a choice concerning obedience to that which God requires we do in order to wash away our sins (See At 22:16). It can be no other way, lest we make God fiendish by suggesting that He has predestined individuals to either heaven or hell.
As a reminder, Peter wrote, “You in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God.”2:10 Those who are outside Christ are not the people of God. In order to become a part of the people of God, one must enter into the holy nation through the door of obedience to the gospel. Paul explained it clearly: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gl 3:27). One cannot claim to be of the people of God unless he has put on Christ. And one cannot put on Christ unless he is immersed into Christ. In view of this fact, what do we think Satan would do to keep individuals from becoming a part of the people of God?
If Paul’s preceding statement is true—and it is—then Satan would convince people to think that they were the people of God on the other side of the waters of the new birth. He would convince people that a “sinner’s prayer” or “an acceptance of Jesus into one’s heart” were all that is needed to bring one into a saving relationship with God. Unfortunately, there will be a great deal of disappointed people in the judgment who have not dressed themselves with Christ by refusing to be buried and raised with Christ (See Rm 6:3-6).
E. Be a sojouner and pilgrim.
For those Christians who would engage themselves in efforts to make war against governments who function for our peace, they need to remember that our citizenship is far above any government of this world. We must remember that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Ph 3:20). And because our citizenship is in heaven, Peter exhorts that we “pass the time of your journey on earth in fear.”1:17
We must be sojourners and pilgrims who war against the lusts of the flesh, not against the state. Paul exhorted, “put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ep 6:11). Sojourners are passing through every nation that comes into existence. Pilgrims have their minds set on a new destination that is not of this world (Cl 3:1,2). The sojourner, therefore, can remain faithful in his journey because his mind is focused on that which is beyond the land in which he is sojourning. It could not have been said better than in the following words:
Brethren, I count not myself to have laid hold. But one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things that are before. I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Ph 3:13,14).
As we sojourn among the unbelievers, we maintain the integrity of our holiness through honesty. We heed the life-style that Jesus directed: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:16). When the unbeliever observes our good works, he has the opportunity to “glorify God in the day of visitation,” the day when God brings judgment on national Israel.2:12 In other words, when a Roman soldier came breaking through a Christian’s door, a humble disciple should be discovered inside the house, one who was submissive to the law of the state in which he lived. It would be a moment when a disciple of Jesus should immediately confess that he was a Christian, and not some Jewish insurrectionist working against the state of Rome.
[Next lecture: SURVIVOR SUBMISSION: January18]