************ Sermon on 1 Peter 1:2 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on February 21, 2021

2 Peter 1:1-2
2 Peter 1:2b
"Elect for Obedience"

Peter writes to persecuted believers. They are rejected, suffering for the faith, fleeing for their lives. Peter tells them they may not be the chosen of the world -- in fact, they are strangers and aliens in the world -- but they are chosen of God. They are elect according to the foreknowledge of God -- which means God has an eternal plan He turns into reality. They become elect through the sanctifying work of the Spirit.

Today we ask why does God elect people? What is His goal, His purpose? "That's easy," you may say. "God's purpose is to save from death and hell, to make right with Him, to free from bondage to sin." But that is not God's ultimate plan. That's too negative. God has a very positive goal in mind when He elects His people.

Urban renewal begins with the tearing down of slum dwellings; but the purpose of the job is the erection of new homes. Fields are plowed and cultivated not merely to kill the weeds or break up the dirt; the harvest of the new crop is the goal of the farmer. And so when we speak of God's election decree, it is not enough to talk of the misery that was removed, the bondage that has been thrown off, the wrongness that has been made right; we must also say something about the newness that has come. God did not do all His electing work merely to snatch His people from the fire.

So what is God's election goal? Peter mentions two things: first, obedience to Jesus Christ; second, sprinkling by His blood.

I Obedience to Jesus Christ
A The first purpose of election is obedience to Jesus Christ. God's elect are elect for obedience. That's one of the reasons they are strangers and aliens in the world. The man and woman of the world would never consider or pursue obedience to Jesus. They certainly would not make it the purpose of their life. Instead, their goal, their pursuit, their purpose is pleasure, money, possessions, family, power, knowledge, work, long life, food and wine, advancement, friendships, weekends, vacations, travel, or whatever other worldly pursuit you care to name. Obedience to Jesus the purpose of your life? How strange! How alien!

Unbelievers, we can say, head in the opposite direction of believers. God has chosen the elect to follow, to walk, the path of righteousness. Unbelievers, on the other hand, follow/walk "the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air" (Eph 2:2). The goal of the unbelieving is "gratifying the cravings of [the] sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts" (Eph 2: 3). Their desires and thoughts are dominated by self-centered passions. They want to do the things of the flesh that God forbids in His Ten Commandments: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like (Gal 5:16-21).

B The purpose of election is obedience to Jesus Christ. The purpose of your election and my election is a life of obedience. Now, none of us obey as we ought; none of us obey fully; nevertheless, we are elect for obedience.

Elect for obedience. Which means obedience is the pattern of our life. I love how Paul states this in Ephesians 2:
Ephesians 2:10 (NIV84) — 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
One of the good works: obedience. So God's people are elect for obedience to Jesus Christ. Instead of slaves to sin they are servants of God. They become submissive to the first table of the Law teaching them what their relation to God should be. They become submissive to the second table of the Law teaching them what they owe their neighbor. Their behavior is righteous. They serve and love Jesus. Their lives are faithful and fruitful. Election produces obedience -- not perfect obedience, but obedience nonetheless.

C Elect for obedience. Did you know obedience is a sign of election? Consider what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians:
1 Thessalonians 1:4 (NIV84) — 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,
How does Paul know? Paul tells us what leads him to the conclusion they are elect: their imitation of the Lord Jesus, how they are models to all the believers in Macedonia.

How do we know anyone is elect? Because they say so? Because they are baptized? Because they have professed their faith? Because they have been raised in a covenant home? Because they were given a Christian education? Because they are an elder or a pastor? That's not what Paul says. One of the proofs of election is obedience.

Elect for obedience. This implies that those who are elect for obedience recognize and know and admit and confess disobedience. They hate sin, resist sin, and fight sin. They know Christ suffered and died for their disobedience. Obedience is the response of the elect.

II Sprinkling by His Blood
A Peter also mentions a second goal or purpose of election: "sprinkling by his blood." The elect receive "sprinkling by his blood." The blood mentioned here can only be the blood of Christ.

The elect receive "sprinkling by his blood." What is this? What does it mean? We have to look to the Old Testament for an answer. What about the Day of Atonement? Lots of blood was sprinkled then. On that day the high priest placed his hands on the head of a bull and confessed his own sins and the sins of his family. When he was finished with confession he slaughtered the bull. Then the high priest took the blood of the slaughtered bull, entered the Holy of Holies, sprinkled blood on the mercy seat seven times, and exited the Holy of Holies. Then he sacrificed a goat. This time he confessed the sins of the people. He reentered the Holy of Holies and seven times sprinkled the blood of the goat on the mercy seat. Upon exiting, the high priest took the leftover blood of the bull and the goat and sprinkled them on the altar of sacrifice and rubbed them on its horns. Like I said, lots of sprinkling. But no sprinkling on God's elect and saved people. What is true for the Day of Atonement is also true for all the sin offerings: for none of them were the people sprinkled with blood.

There are two times when blood was sprinkled on people. The Law specified the blood of a bird was to be sprinkled seven times on a leper to symbolize cleansing (Lev 14:1-6). And, the blood of a ram was sprinkled on Aaron and his sons when they were consecrated as priests (Ex 29, Lev 8). Neither of these two times fit what Peter is talking about.

So what is this sprinkling of blood? Follow what Peter says. First, the elect are chosen in eternity past according to the foreknowledge of God. But, remember, they aren't saved yet. Second, the elect are then saved by the sanctifying work of the Spirit. Third, the elect then respond with obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood. Whatever "sprinkling by his blood" means, it is a response to election and salvation.

B I want you to turn to the Exodus 24 reading that is at the front of our worship packet. I am going to start reading at verse 3 instead of verse 4 like in your packet:
Exodus 24:3–8 (NIV84) — 3 When Moses went and told the people all the LORD's words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” 4 Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” 8 Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Cf Hebrews 9:19-22)

Two times Moses told the people all the LORD’s words and laws. Two times the people responded with a promise: "Everything the LORD has said we will do" (Ex 24:3) ... "we will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey" (Ex 24:7). Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words" (Ex 24:8).

Do you see what is going on? God was making a covenant with His people. A covenant in which the people promised two times to obey the Lord. It was a covenant of obedience.

Now, in ancient times covenants were often sealed with blood. A covenant sealed with blood was the strongest type of covenant two people could enter into. It has been used to unite people together in marriage, business, and friendship. The covenant was made when the blood of two individuals was mingled. It could be done by cutting the palms of the individuals and then the shaking of hands combined the blood. It could also be that a few drops of blood from each person would be mingled in a glass of wine and then drunk by both. Or, an animal’s blood could be shed as representative of both individuals.

The sprinkling of blood in Exodus 24 is sealing a covenant between God and His people. That's why Moses calls the blood "the blood of the covenant." The sprinkling of the blood of the covenant obligates the parties in the covenant. It commits the parties in the covenant to each other. With the blood sprinkled on them the people are promising to keep God's Word, God's commands. As for God, the blood of the covenant on His altar proclaims His faithfulness.

C Back to Peter: the elect receive "sprinkling by his blood." Do you see what Peter has in mind? Peter has in mind a covenant relationship between God and His elect sealed by the blood of Jesus. On the part of God, the blood means God is faithful and true to His election decree; the blood means God will save and forgive His elect. On the part of the elect, the blood means they have made a commitment to follow Jesus in obedience; the blood means the elect surrender all to Jesus. To quote the words we will be singing:
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all.
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

The elect receive "sprinkling by his blood." Our part in this covenant is to obey and God's part is to forgive when we fail. What security the elect receive because of the blood. The same blood that seals the covenant covers the sin of the disobedient Christian.

III The Blessing of Election
A One final point about election: its blessing. We find the blessing of election in the last line of our Bible reading: "Grace and peace be yours in abundance."

We live in grace. All of you know, or should know, what grace is. It is the free, unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor of God towards elect sinners in which He gives them full forgiveness in Christ forever.

As for peace, it is what the elect have when they have grace. Peace is the result of grace. It is the state of blessing that flows out of our forgiveness because of Christ. The Old Testament word, the Hebrew word, is Shalom. Peace. At rest. Happiness. Joy.

B "Grace and peace be yours in abundance." Notice that word "abundance." Grace and peace for the elect in unending, abundant, generous quantities. "My wish for the elect," says Peter, "is an ever-increasing, never-ending, abundant quantity of grace and peace." A number of other Bible translations use the phrase "be multiplied to you." Multiply. That doesn't mean multiply by one -- because that is no increase at all. It means multiply by two, five, ten, even one hundred. More grace for every sin. More grace for every weakness. More grace for every failure to do good. More grace for every idle word. More grace for every mean thought. More grace for every wicked deed. And more peace too. More peace for every struggle and trial. More peace for every troubled soul. More peace for every temptation. More peace for every sorrow.

"Grace and peace be yours in abundance." In other words, I wish you all the blessings of being elect.

God is so generous towards His elect. What else do we need? What else can we need?

So what have we learned about election from these two verses? Election means we have an identity in heaven as one of God's people. Election means we have an identity on earth as strangers and aliens. Election means God is carrying out and accomplishing His eternal plan for our salvation. Election means the Spirit saves us and changes us. Election means God wants us to obey Jesus and be committed to Jesus. Election mean God blesses us with grace and peace.
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