************ Pentecost Sermon on 1 Peter 1:2, 10-12; 3:18; 4:14; 2 Peter 1:21 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 23, 2021
1 Peter 1:2, 10-12; 3:18; 4:14; 2 Peter 1:21
"Peter and the Spirit"
Someone asked, "Are you preaching on Peter for Pentecost?" After our Bible reading this morning you all know the answer: Of course I am. Because the Holy Spirit is important to Peter.
Remember what happened on Pentecost Sunday? Peter and the other apostles were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages. God-fearing Jews from every nation heard them speaking in their own language and were amazed. Then Peter stood and explained that the apostles were not filled with wine but with the Spirit just as was predicted by the prophet Joel. Then, filled with the Spirit, Peter delivered the first sermon by any of the apostles -- a sermon all about Jesus. He talked about Jesus' life and ministry, the plan of God for salvation, Jesus' death and resurrection and glory.
Right away we see something important about the Spirit. When someone is filled with the Spirit they don't say, "I am filled with the Spirit." Rather, they say, "I know Jesus." The Spirit points away from itself and to Jesus. So Kellan this morning professes faith not in the Spirit but in Jesus.
In line with this, notice what Peter does. Filled with the Spirit, he calls on his audience to repent of sin and to believe in Jesus. And about three thousand accepted his message, were baptized, and were added to their number that day. I am somewhat jealous of Peter. Under my ministry I've had one or two or twelve and even twenty-two people profess faith at one time but I've never had one hundred, let alone three thousand. So, yes, the Spirit was important to Peter, very important.
Now, remember, as I told you last time, I don't like it that Peter keeps interrupting himself. He starts on a subject, jumps to a different subject or two, and then comes back to the original subject. He certainly does that with the Spirit. That's why our Bible reading comes from all these different texts.
So what does Peter tell us about the Spirit on this Pentecost Sunday? I want to raise three points. First, the sanctification of the Spirit. Second, the inspiration of the Spirit. Third, the glorification by the Spirit. Sanctification. Inspiration. Glorification.
I The Sanctification of the Spirit
A Our first point is what Peter calls the "sanctifying work of the Spirit" (1 Pet 1:2). What is this work? Usually, when we think of the sanctifying work of the Spirit, we think narrowly of being made holy. But Peter uses it for the entire work of salvation: it is the Spirit who makes us born again, who leads us to repentance and faith, who applies the justifying work of Christ to our hearts, who sanctifies us, and who glorifies us.
Think of this in terms of Kellan this morning. Why is Kellan here? Because he is one of God's elect. But this does not mean he is saved. Remember, election and salvation are not one and the same. No one is saved -- not Kellan, not you, not me -- no one is saved unless they are under the sanctifying work of the Spirit.
It is possible, though only for a while, for you to be elect and not saved. As I asked a couple of months ago, how long are the elect one of the elect? From eternity. There is never a time when the elect are not elect. Now, how long are the elect saved? Only since the time the Spirit has worked in them and led them to repentance and faith. You and I have been elect from all eternity. But before we come to repentance and faith we are unsaved. Do you see the difference between election and salvation? Election, the plan of God, becomes real in the life of the elect only through the work of the Spirit. Election means nothing, it comes to nothing, without the work of the Spirit.
B What else does verse 2 say? Those in whom the Spirit works end up with "obedience to Jesus Christ." They live lives that are separate, different, holy, set apart. The Spirit consecrates Christians to the service of God. Here we come to the typical understanding of sanctification.
Realize that the work of the Spirit does not mean perfection. I am not as holy as I should be, nor as I want to be, nor as I shall be; and neither are you. But before the work of the Spirit I was not holy at all. Before the work of the Spirit I was not separate, different, set apart. Before the work of the Spirit I was in darkness. But now -- thanks to the Spirit -- I am separate, different, holy, set apart.
Over the years I have met people who claim to be elect but there has never been a change in their life. There is even a denomination that specializes in this. Even though their young people are known for getting drunk and getting pregnant, elders and parents say it is no reason for concern because they are one of the elect. What horrendous theology! There has to be a difference in your life if you are one of the elect. There has to be a difference in the life of the elect because the Spirit does His sanctifying and saving work.
C Notice how verse 2 ends: "sprinkling by his blood." The "sanctifying work of the Spirit" leads to "sprinkling by his blood." What does this mean?
Peter, as a student of the Old Testament, is thinking of an Old Testament ceremony when he mentions "sprinkling by his blood." But he is not thinking of the Passover or the Day of Atonement. He is not thinking of sin offerings. He is not thinking of cleansing ceremonies for leprosy or the ordination service of Aaron and his sons. Rather, he is thinking of the covenant-sealing ceremony mentioned in Exodus 24.
Moses was about to take the leaders of Israel up to the presence of the Lord on Mount Sinai. But before he did this Moses told the people and the leaders all the LORD’s words and laws. Two times the people and the leaders responded with a promise: "Everything the LORD has said we will do ... we will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey" (Ex 24:3,7). Moses then took blood, sprinkled it on the people and leaders 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).
Sprinkled with blood, the leaders then went with Moses into the very presence of God. They saw the God of Israel. They saw something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself; which means they saw God's glory. But God did not raise His hand against these leaders of Israel; they saw God, and they ate and drank. They had communion with God.
This describes the work of the Holy Spirit. The sanctifying work of the Spirit leads to sprinkling by His blood. The sanctifying work of the Spirit leads to communion with Christ. The sanctifying work of the Spirit makes real in your life the covenant relationship in which He is your God and you are His people.
Our communion with Christ, dear brothers and sisters, is because of the sanctifying work of the Spirit. Because of the Spirit we have living union with the Lord.
II The Inspiration of the Spirit
A Our second point is the inspiration of the Spirit. We start with the last verse of our Bible reading:
(2 Pet 1:21; NIV84) — 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Peter is concerned with the source of Scripture, the origin of the Bible. Prophets didn't invent it: "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man." No prophecy was ever at any time made by an act of human will. The Bible is not the product of man. Let me say one name. I can say so many others. But let me say one name as an example of prophecy -- heretical prophecy -- that came about by the will of man. That name is Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion. He claims an angel told him where golden scrolls were buried. He further claims he could read the scrolls -- not by digging them up and holding them in his hands -- but by looking into his magical stovepipe hat as he held it over the spot the angel indicated. As he read, his servant wrote it all down. "Prophecy [that] had its origin in the will of man." That describes Joseph Smith and the Mormon religion.
How many books are in the Bible? There are sixty-six of them. None of them have their origin in the will of man. All of them are from men who "were carried along by the Holy Spirit."
"Carried along." In the book of Acts, the phrase is used for the ship Paul was on as it was carried along by the wind. That is the way to look at this. The Holy Spirit blew the human authors in the direction He chose for them to go. They wrote as they moved along under the power of the Spirit.
And so, they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible, not man. The Bible is not a book written by men. Human thought, human will, human imagination is not the producer of the prophetic word. The Bible is a book recorded by men, but authored by God the Holy Spirit.
As I already told you, I don't like Peter's writing style. But it makes no difference what I think because Peter is inspired and I am not. I might be inspiring, I might be inspirational, but I definitely am not inspired. Under the inspiration of the Spirit what Peter writes is error free, infallible, authoritative. It comes from the Spirit of God.
B Peter tells us the prophets did not always understand their own prophecies (1 Pet 1:10). Daniel, for instance, had a vision of four beasts; he was troubled by what he saw and had to ask the true meaning of all this (Dan 7:15-16). Another time, Daniel heard but did not understand (Dan 12:8). What he saw was glorious and clouded at the same time. Before the coming of Christ, how were the prophets to make sense of what they saw; that sometimes what they saw was a glorious King and other times a suffering Lamb? Peter says they were not serving themselves but us.
C The prophets of old spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. But the minister of the gospel today goes a step further. He has the very presence of the Spirit sent from heaven giving authority and power to his word. So when the minister speaks the message of the Gospel, he speaks in the very name of God Himself. And, those who hear end up accepting or rejecting the very word of God Himself.
III The Glorification by the Spirit
A We end with two verses describing our third point: the glorification by the Spirit.
We start with the Spirit's glorification of Christ in 1 Peter 3:18. "He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit." What glory? That someone dead is made alive. Jesus' body was in the grave. How did it come back alive? The same way man was made a living being in Genesis 2: the breath of God, the Spirit of God, came into that body and gave it life. On Easter morning the Spirit of God, the breath of God, breathed life into the body of Christ.
What the Spirit did with Christ it also does for us who believe in Christ. So, like Christ, after we die we can expect our dead bodies to be made alive by the power and breath of the Spirit.
The Spirit brings life. The Spirit does not bring death. The Spirit makes alive.
B But there is more. 1 Peter 4:14 says the "Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." Let me paint a vivid picture for you of what this looks like.
Remember where the glory of God resided in the days of the prophets and Old Testament Israel? In the Temple, and before that in the Tabernacle. These two structures had three main sections. The first section was the court that contained the altar for the atoning blood and the wash basin for the cleansing water. The average Israelite could go to this court but no further. The priests could go a bit further, to the Holy Place. The Holy Place had the gold lampstand, the sacred bread, the burning incense. The priests offered prayer, ate and replaced the bread, lit the candles, burned incense. The third section was the Holy of Holies, the sacred chamber of God, where the glory of God shone between the stretched out wings of the two cherubim facing each other on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. Before the coming of Jesus, this section was closed off by a mighty curtain. Only the high priest could enter it, but only once a year. But at the death of Jesus, the curtain was torn in two from top to bottom by the finger of God, inviting us to enter in and glory in God Himself.
"The Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." Through the Spirit, the glory of God Himself now rests upon us: Where two or three gather together. Thanks to the Spirit, God's presence is no longer in a place but on a people -- those who believe in Jesus.
Sanctification. Inspiration. Glorification. That's what we are promised.
Let's go back to verse 2. "Through," says Peter. "Through ... the Spirit." Through the Spirit there is sanctification, inspiration, and glorification. Thank God for the Spirit. Thank Christ for sending us His Spirit.
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