The Christian life is a race. One of the keys to running the Christian race well is never forgetting who you are. Timothy “TA” Ateek unpacks 1 Peter 1:1-2 to show us how God has set His affections on us.
When Life Is H.A.R.D. | 1 Peter 5:6-14
Who’s in Charge at Watermark? | 1 Peter 5:1-5
Trusting in the Suffering | 1 Peter 4:12-19
The End Is Near | 1 Peter 4:1-11
What Christ Accomplished Through His Death, Burial, and Resurrection | 1 Peter 3:18-22
Hope in Jesus on Display | 1 Peter 3:8-17
The Key to a Better Marriage | 1 Peter 3:1-7
God’s Identity, Calling, and Example for You | 1 Peter 2:13-25
How To Find The Right Church | 1 Peter 2:4-12
3 Indicators of Spiritual Growth | 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
Battling Spiritual Amnesia | 1 Peter 1:13-21
Praise in Present Suffering | 1 Peter 1:3-12
Remember Who You Are | 1 Peter 1:1-2
Peter greets the Gentiles in 1 Peter with three reminders about who they are. As an apostle and eyewitness to Jesus’s life, Peter has the authority to encourage these believers with these truths, which are also true of us today.
Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing today? Hey, it's so good to see you. If this is your first time around here, let me just introduce myself to you. My name is Timothy Ateek, and I'm one of the teaching pastors here. Today, we are starting a new series that is going to be weeks long through the book of 1 Peter.
I'll just tell you this. As I was preparing for this message in this series, I was reminded of something that happened almost 30 years ago when I was in high school. I really haven't thought about it much since then. When I was in high school, I ran cross country and track for Highland Park High School (go Scots). When I was in high school, I was a follower of Jesus. I became a Christian at a young age, and when I was in high school, I was actively seeking to live out my faith.
I remember this one track race in particular. I was running the 800 and was having a terrible race. I was in the middle of the race, and I was so discouraged. I was so disappointed in how the race was going I became angry about how things were going, and when I crossed the finish line, I was so frustrated with how I had run that I proceeded to let out every cussword I could think of in that moment.
They didn't make sense. They didn't fit together. I didn't form a sentence with cusswords. I didn't evaluate this cussword. "If you pair it with this one, it makes more impact." No, it was just every cussword I could think to say I said in that moment. My coach, who was not a follower of Jesus Christ, was standing right there at the finish line, and he heard all of it. He really didn't address it in the moment. We just kind of went our ways.
On Monday when I showed up to track practice, my coach, incredible coach… He had this routine where he would hand each runner a personalized sheet that had their workout for the week, and then it would have a note from the coach speaking to the previous race. In his note to me, here's what he said. He was referring to me just letting loose at the end of my race, and here's what he said: "That is not who I know you to be." That's what he said.
He knew I was a Christian. He knew what I stood for. He himself was not a believer, but he knew the life I was trying to live, and he just said, "That's not who I know you to be, and I would encourage you to never let that happen again." As I told my wife that story last night, she was like, "That doesn't sound like you at all," and I was like, "That's the point." If my mom is watching this…Mom, that happened 30 years ago. I've changed, I promise.
The reason I tell you that is because when you look in the Scriptures, the Scriptures refer to the Christian life as a race. There are going to be times where you're really pleased with how you're running the Christian life, and there are going to be other times where you're not. There are going to be times when race conditions are very unenjoyable. Maybe the storms of life come. It's more windy than you hoped it would be, and you're just not running that well.
What we're going to see as we step into the book of 1 Peter this morning is one of the most important things for you to know when you are running the Christian life is your identity will shape your daily activity. If you want to be someone who runs well, then my greatest encouragement to you, coming from the book of 1 Peter this morning, is don't forget who you are.
Today, we're going to see Peter writing to a group of people who are in the midst of the race of the Christian life, and they're dealing with all sorts of suffering and persecution because of their faith. The race has gotten tough. Do you want to know what Peter's greatest encouragement is going to be to them right out of the gate, right at the start of the book? His greatest encouragement to them is "Remember who you are."
Don't be like me that freshman year of high school. Don't forget who you are. Remember. Remember your identity and let your identity shape your day-to-day activity. So, I just want you to see how Peter starts his book. We're just looking at the first two verses this morning. If you have your Bible, turn to 1 Peter, chapter 1. Here's what he says in the first two verses:
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: may grace and peace be multiplied to you."
These first two verses are all about identity. As we're going to see, Peter is going to remind his readers of three things. First, he's going to remind his readers of the reality of their identity, who they are. Secondly, he's going to remind them of the reasons for their identity. He's going to tell them how they became who they are. Thirdly, he's going to remind them of the result of their identity. As he reminds his readers of these things, he is reminding us of these things.
I love that we're only looking at two verses this morning. If you look at your Bible and what your Bible titles these two verses… If it's anything like my Bible, it just labels them "Greeting." This is just the greeting. Whenever you read your Bible, especially the letters in the New Testament, these are the throwaway verses. These are the formalities. It's like, "Okay. So-and-so is writing to so-and-so. Great. Now that we got that over with, let's get into the part that actually matters."
But I'm going to tell you these two verses are two of the richest verses, theologically, I have taught during my first year here at Watermark Community Church. So, those of you who geek out on theology, you're going to be all about it, and you're going to be emailing me critiques this week. The rest of you, buckle up. We'll see what happens. Here we go.
I just want to walk very carefully through these two verses and take them word for word, phrase by phrase, verse by verse. It starts out and says, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ…" That just reminds us who's writing. We know a lot about Peter. Even if you're new to the church and new to the Bible, there is a good chance you've heard of Peter. Peter was this impulsive guy from Galilee. He was a fisherman who dropped everything all at once to follow Jesus full time.
Jesus had twelve really close friends, but among those twelve, there were three he spent the most time with. They were kind of his inner circle. Peter was one of those guys. The thing I love about Peter is that everything was either really great or really bad. He had high highs and low lows. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was always a 1 or a 2 or a 9 or a 10. Peter never lived life at a 4 or a 5. I'll give you some examples.
He had a really high high where he confessed that Jesus Christ was, in fact, the Christ, and Jesus praised him for it. In the same conversation, Peter argues with Jesus about his crucifixion, and Jesus calls him Satan. That's a massive turn of events. Peter walked on water, and then he sank in that same water. Peter was the guy who was a terrible swordsman, who, when Jesus was being arrested, drew a sword and only got the guy's ear. He's either really precise or really bad with a sword. He cut off a guy's ear trying to defend Jesus, and hours later, he denied Jesus three times.
What you see is after Jesus rises from the dead, he meets with Peter. He restores Peter. They have this really sweet moment where Jesus erases his failures, and then he calls Peter to play a key role in the formation of the church. So, then you step into the book of Acts where you see the church of Jesus Christ beginning to catch fire. Where do we see Peter? We see Peter preaching on opening day of the church. He gives a message, and 3,000 people put their trust in Christ.
When you read the rest of the book of Acts, Peter spent his life suffering for the gospel. He boldly proclaimed the gospel. He was imprisoned for the gospel. Tradition tells us he was crucified upside down as a martyr. This is who's writing 1 Peter. This is a guy who's well acquainted with suffering for Jesus, but he's a guy who had a wild love for Jesus.
It says, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ…" That's really important. The fact that he's an apostle establishes authority to be writing this letter. Peter was an apostle because Jesus Christ commissioned him as an apostle. Jesus Christ set authority on Peter, and not just Peter, but on a group of men to be the apostles, and Peter was one of them.
One of the things that authenticated Peter as an apostle was his ability to speak rightly about the person of Jesus Christ. When Peter says he's an apostle, the readers should gain great confidence. Him saying that should cause the readers to kind of lean in and pay more attention, because when it says he's an apostle, it's like they're not just hearing from Peter, but they are actually hearing from God through Peter.
Do you see the wording? It says, "To those who are…" It doesn't say, "To my friends." It doesn't say, "To the believers." It says, "To those who are…" What is he doing? He's saying, "Let me just remind you of who you are." There are a lot of different ways he could have started, but he wants to start by reminding them of their identity.
"To those who are…" Here's the wording: "…elect exiles." Elect means chosen. Exiles means stranger or sojourner or pilgrim, which is interesting. When you put these two words together, it's like a contradiction. "Elect exiles." It's like saying, "To the accepted rejects." It kind of doesn't make sense until you unpack it. He's saying, "You guys are elect exiles. You're chosen."
The language he uses is very interesting. If you read the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is known as God's chosen people, but now, in the book of 1 Peter, Peter is going to use language that was reserved for the nation of Israel in the Old Testament in reference to an audience that is primarily non-Jewish, or Gentile. It's a Gentile audience.
He says, "Hey, just as God chose the nation of Israel in the Old Testament and set his love on them and had great purpose for them, the same is true for you now. Now you are in the family. You are God's chosen people as well." Look at what it says in 1 Peter 2:9. "But you are a chosen race…" This is all language God uses of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament.
"…a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." This is amazing news. He's saying, "Look. God has chosen you. He has set his love upon you. He has great purpose for you, just as he had for the nation of Israel in the Old Testament."
They are elect exiles of…what? Of the Dispersion. Exile, again, can be translated stranger, sojourner, or pilgrim, and they are exiles of the Dispersion. That word Dispersion is a term that is normally used of Jews who were displaced from their homeland due to sin or persecution. Now Peter is using the term in a metaphorical sense to refer to Gentiles.
What he's saying is, "You guys aren't necessarily scattered away from your homeland physically. You are scattered spiritually from your homeland, which is now heaven. When you put your trust in Christ, your citizenship is no longer in earth; your citizenship is in heaven. You have been scattered around Asia Minor, and you guys are living as spiritual minorities in that land. It's possible that you are living on the street you grew up on. You could be in your same household, living next to the same neighbors, yet you feel like a stranger or a foreigner now."
Why? Because the way of Jesus is so contrary to the way of the world. So, these people Peter is writing to are experiencing suffering and persecution because now they're exiles. They are strangers. They are foreigners to earth because their citizenship is in heaven. He's basically saying, "Look. It feels like a contradiction, but you live in the tension of being selected and accepted by God but rejected by man. You are elect exiles."
That's our identity. If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, then a synonym for Christian is simply elect exile. That's who we are. This is going to sound far-fetched, but I'm just letting you know. When you became a Christian, or an elect exile, your life, in some ways, should feel a little bit like Buddy the Elf from my favorite Christmas movie Elf. Some of you are like, "Really? How are you going to get there?" All right. Here's the deal.
Remember, Buddy the Elf was born here in the United States, yet he was adopted by someone from a different realm who set his affection on him and shaped him, molded his life as an elf. So, the rest of the movie is just a movie about Buddy the Elf living in the tension of his reality that he doesn't necessarily feel right at home here in the United States. He believes in someone no one else believes in. "Santa! I know him!" and everyone is like, "No, you don't," and it goes down right there in the toy store.
People are trying to make him wear different clothes. People aren't fully accepting him for who he is. He's living in the tension of, because of his identity, it doesn't quite fit in his reality in the United States. The same should be true of us as elect aliens. What is our story? Our story is that we were born here on earth, but we've been adopted by one from a different realm, so our citizenship is in heaven. So, the rest of our lives are spent living in this tension that we put our faith in one many others do not believe in.
This world wants us to conform and look how it looks, yet that no longer feels right. It feels like not a fit. So, this is the tension we live in. This is our identity. Don't forget it. At the same time, beware when you are loved by God and loved by the world at the same exact time. You should beware of the times you have a strong love for God and a strong love for the world. I'm not talking about loving the world in an evangelism sense. I'm saying your affections are divided.
The way of Jesus and the way of the world are such a contrast it's impossible for a Christian who is genuinely living in their identity as an elect exile… It is impossible for an elect exile to fit in unnoticed, going with the flow of the world. It doesn't work. So, Peter starts by reminding them of the reality of their identity.
The reason this is so important is if you and I were to sit down and I were to ask you, "Hey, tell me how you became a Christian," I wonder if the majority of people's first word out of their mouth would be I. "I grew up in a Christian home, and [yada, yada, yada]." "I was going through a really tough time. I was searching for life in everything but Jesus, and then a friend invited me to church or shared the gospel with me, and I put my faith in Jesus Christ." Or "I went to camp when I was in high school and heard the gospel taught, and then I invited Christ into my heart."
All of those are good. That is your story, and praise God for your story. I celebrate your story. The problem with that is it puts you or me as the star of our conversion, our salvation. There's a better way to start your story. The best way to start your story is "God set his affection on me long before I was ever born." Out of the gate, it defines who the star of our salvation truly is. The reason I say that is because of what we learn right here.
Peter is explaining to them how they became elect exiles. He's explaining the reasons for their identity. Look at what he says in verse 2. "…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…" He's going to give three different phrases, and all three of those phrases are modifying elect exiles. As I've already said, this is just an explanation of how we became elect exiles. It started and is according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.
Now, when you hear foreknowledge, what's your instant thought? Your tendency is probably going to be to equate knowledge with information. So, you might read this and say, "Well, it's according to the foreknowledge of God," and you might think it's kind of saying, "Well, it started with God having some intel of who we would become, and he had that intel long before we were born."
Anytime the Scriptures refer to God knowing an individual, knowledge is almost synonymous with love. So, here, foreknowledge is practically synonymous with fore-loving. Let me give you an example. Abraham in the Old Testament is a great example. Genesis 18:19 says, "For I have chosen him…" If you were to look at your Bible, there's a good chance that chosen in your Bible has an asterisk next to it, and if you were to look at the bottom, next to that asterisk would be the word known. The Hebrew word here that has been translated chosen can be translated as known.
"For I have [known] him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him." Think about the story of Abraham. The story of Abraham is that God chose, in his sovereignty, to set his affection upon a man who was coming from a pagan-worshiping family.
He called this man named Abraham, who did not have saving faith yet, and he called him to leave his land and go to another land. Before Abraham ever had saving faith, God made massive promises to him that would write the story of the rest of the Old Testament and have huge implications on the New Testament.
He promised Abraham he would make from him a great nation. That's the nation of Israel. He promised his descendants would have a land. That's the land of Canaan. And he promised this unbeliever that from him all of the nations of the world would be blessed. We now know what he was saying was that the Savior of the world would be one of his descendants. Think about that.
Here is a guy… There is nothing about Abraham that should cause God to be like, "That's my guy," but God, in his sovereignty, chooses to set his affection upon Abraham and pour out his love and accomplish his purposes on the earth through Abraham and, ultimately, his descendant Jesus Christ. That, in a way, is our story.
When it says we are elect exiles according to the foreknowledge of God, here's what you have to understand: foreknowledge speaks to the incomprehensible sovereignty of God, that God in eternity past chose each Christian to be his child. This is so important. God did not choose each Christian to be his child because he had intel that one day we would choose him, so he is just responding to what he knows will happen in the future, that we will choose him, so he chooses us. No. It's the opposite.
Foreknowledge means God, in his incomprehensible sovereignty, has chosen to set his intentional and irresistible affection upon every Christian, and it is that affection which enables us to choose him. That's foreknowledge. That's why you see in John 1:12-13… "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…" You're like, "Okay. Sounds good. I need to make a decision to believe in Jesus." Yes, but… " [You] were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." Do you see it?
If you know Jesus, it is because you have made a decision to put your faith in Jesus Christ. Yes, that is true, but you have put your faith in Jesus Christ not just as an act of your will, but because of the will of God. In choosing you, he has enabled you to choose him. It's a massive reality that God has chosen to set his affection upon us in spite of us.
When I was in college at Texas A&M University, there was this group of Aggies who decided to pick a high school football team in the state of Texas and just follow them for the season. They wanted to choose a small town, so they chose Mart, Texas. Here's the thing: no one had any connection to Mart. Mart is just a little bit outside of Waco. No one had any connection to Mart. No one's family was from Mart. No one had friends playing for Mart. They just decided, "We're all in with Mart."
So, this group of guys made purple shirts that said "Mart Madness" on them, and every Friday night, they began to road-trip to wherever Mart was playing. I went one time. We drove two hours there and back to cheer for a team we had no connection to, but these people were all in. This group of guys would go decked out in Mart attire. They would stand on the front row, and they would yell mightier than anyone else in the stands.
They began to meet the parents of the players and become friends with them. They ended up on the field, taking pictures with players. Why? I don't know! That's just what college kids do. They chose to set their affection on a group of people when there was no reason for them to. That, in such a miniscule way, is exactly what God has done with us. There is nothing that would beg him to do it. God in his kindness has set his affection upon us.
Now, we're talking about something right here that is known as the doctrine of election. The doctrine of election is a hot take. It's a hot take because here's what people can say. They can hear me saying that God chose each Christian, and the argument is, "Well, if God chooses some but not everyone, then that makes him unfair. That's the problem with God. That's why I won't believe in God. He's not just. He's unfair."
Here's how you need to think about it. Every single person on the planet has willfully rebelled against God. If you're new to Christianity or you're just exploring it, a good question for you to ask is, "When did I willfully rebel against God?" I'll kind of turn the question back at you and ask this: think of a day in your life that you haven't willfully rebelled against God.
Name a day when there was no hint of selfishness in your heart or frustration toward another person or greed or inappropriate thoughts or unwholesome speech or envy or jealousy or disobedience to your parents or exaggerating or telling white lies or finding your greatest satisfaction from someone or something other than God. All of that is willful rebellion against God. I mean, selfishness has marked our lives from the youngest age.
I've never had to train my kids to be selfish. I've never had to teach my kids the word mine. I've never sat down before a play date and been like, "Okay, guys. Here's the deal. We're going to a play date. You're going to take your new toy with you. We don't want that kid to play with it, though. They're going to try to come up to play with your toy, and when they do, here's what you do. You grip it, you move it away, and you say, 'Mine!'" I didn't have to teach that. It's like they just knew it.
You don't have to teach that. Why? Because every day, in the most subtle of ways and the most overt ways, we have lived in willful rebellion against God. Here's what that means. It means no one is at neutral standing with God. When we talk about election, people want to make it out to be like choosing teams in elementary school. We're all just standing there, and God is like, "Um…yeah, I'll take you. I'll take you, yeah. And I'll take you."
The reality is no one is just standing in neutral position before God. We've all lived in active rebellion against him, which means we are all actively running away from Jesus Christ and toward hell. As every person in humanity has run willfully away from him and toward hell, God in his sovereignty and kindness has reached out and pulled countless individuals back.
You can say, "Well, why wouldn't he just pull everyone back?" I'll flip the question. Why should he pull anyone back who is running away from him in willful rebellion? It is solely the unfathomable grace and mercy of God that he would pull anyone back. That's the foreknowledge of God. That's God setting his affection on some.
Now here's what you have to understand. To go back to that analogy of choosing teams at elementary school, no one stands before Jesus and is like, "Pick me! Please, pick me! Pick me! Pick me!" and he's like, "Uh, no. You behind the guy who's waving his hand, saying, 'Pick me.'" No. If you want to be on Jesus' team, all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Come to him today. Put your trust in him today. Surrender your life to him today, and you, too, can know his grace and mercy today.
We're elect exiles according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. We see each person of the Trinity, each person of the Godhead, at work in our salvation. I'm asking you to think more deeply about your salvation. Here's the thing. If you were to peek behind the curtain of your salvation, you're going to see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit turning dials and pulling levers all along the way.
The one word that describes your salvation and mine is miracle. It is way more complicated than "I grew up in a Christian home, I heard the gospel, and I put my faith in Jesus." Now, when I say it's more complicated, I'm not saying coming to Jesus is more complicated. I'm just saying it is miraculous what has happened behind the curtain. It starts with the foreknowledge of God the Father.
Then it goes on and says, "…in the sanctification of the Spirit…" It's an even better reading to say through the sanctification of the Spirit. So, how does God's foreknowledge get worked out? It gets worked out through the sanctification of the Spirit. Now, when the Bible uses the word sanctification… Sanctification is a big word that simply means to be set apart or to be made holy. When we think about sanctification, we think about the lifelong process of looking more and more like Jesus and less and less like the world.
Here, Peter is using sanctification not to refer to the lifelong process of being conformed to the image of Christ. He's talking about the Spirit's role in conversion, that moment at conversion where the Spirit of God sets you apart and declares you holy. So, what does this practically look like? Well, whenever you in your past heard the gospel or a friend sat down with you and opened up the Bible and shared Jesus with you… If you were to peek behind the curtain of that moment, you would see the Spirit of God doing at least two things.
The first thing the Spirit of God was doing was convicting you of your sin. Whenever you understood for the first time, "I think I'm not right with God. I have lived in rebellion against him. I am a sinful individual," that was actually the Spirit of God pressing on you, saying, "Look. You are a sinner. You are unrighteous. Something will have to happen for you to be reconciled with a righteous God."
The second thing the Spirit was doing… That moment where you finally understood the truth of the gospel and your need for a Savior, that moment where you wanted to put your faith in Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God was regenerating you. This is what regeneration is. Bruce Demarest explains it this way: "Regeneration is that work of the Spirit at conversion that renews the heart and life (the inner self), thus restoring the person's intellectual, volitional, moral, emotional, and relational capacities to know, love, and serve God." We refer to regeneration as being born again.
So, when it all made sense to you, what was happening was you were spiritually dead, and the Spirit of God was like a defibrillator to your soul, shocking you to life. He awakened you to understand the gospel in its greatest implications. In that moment, the Spirit of God was ripping you from the realm of the dead and locking you out of it for eternity. He was locking you out of the realm of the dead, that you would never be able to return to it, because you've been made spiritually alive, and you are to live with God for all of eternity.
It was in that moment that he was setting you apart and making you holy. Why did he do that? Watch this. "… according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood…" That's it. "For obedience to Christ." That's actually a reference to your first yes to Jesus. When you understood the gospel and prayed to receive Christ, that's what that is referring to. When the Spirit of God awakens you and you say yes to Jesus for the first time, that is what has happened.
At the exact same time you put your faith in Jesus Christ, that work of the Spirit was also for sprinkling with his blood. That's a reference to complete cleansing and forgiveness of all of your sins. So, it was in that moment, whatever your greatest regret is… Just think about that moment in your life that if you could go back and have a do-over, you would take it. The moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ, that greatest failure was wiped clean from your life…complete forgiveness. Obedience and forgiveness.
It's just good for us to understand. In order to be a Christian, you must put your faith in Jesus Christ. No one is born a Christian. No one is a Christian because their parents are Christians. You must put your faith in Jesus Christ. With it comes complete forgiveness of your sins. So, I just want you to think back. Think back to the moment of your conversion. Can you put yourself there?
For me, it was a long time ago by my parents' bed, kneeling on the floor with my mom who led me to Christ. That was the moment I became an elect exile. When was your moment? When did you become an elect exile? Just think of all that was happening behind the curtain for that to happen. God had set his affection upon you. He chose you. The Spirit convicted you, regenerated you, awakened you. You put your faith in him, and there was complete forgiveness of your sins.
This is what is ours in Christ: a life of grace and peace. What's grace? When we talk about grace, we are talking about unearned, undeserved favor. The reason I need everyone to hear what I'm saying right now… Here's my concern for people, especially at Watermark Community Church. I believe this is a church of doers. I love that this church is full of activators. You want to do something. You want your faith to matter, so you want to leave this place and go and do something, which is awesome.
I just want to make sure you don't miss the fact that the Christian life is not primarily about doing for God; the Christian life is primarily about God doing in and through you. When you think about "What is the thing that cultivates intimacy with God?" if you naturally think of all of the things you do to get close to God, you're missing it. That is a life of works. That is a life of trying to earn God's pleasure, earn his favor. No, his favor isn't earned. It's received. It has been granted to you out of the unfathomable, deep, sovereign affection of God. This is grace.
We want to be a church that is marked by grace. Think about who is writing this. It's Peter. It's a fisherman. He had nothing to offer. Jesus chose him. This is a guy who denied Jesus three times. Jesus chose him to be one of the people he builds his church on. From start to finish for Peter's life, it was all God. It was all God's work. Is the same true for you from start to finish?
Would you just rest in the fact that God has set his affection on you? Does that do anything to you when I say it? He has set his affection on you. He has chosen you. He has pursued you relentlessly. Is your life marked by grace? Some of y'all are like, "Okay. Yeah, that's good. TA, I want my life to be marked by grace, so tell me what to go do."
Okay. I'll tell you what to do: allow yourself to be loved by God. You're like, "Yeah. I know God loves me. Now tell me what to do." Allow yourself to be loved by God. Sit with him until your soul is overwhelmed by the reality that he set his affection on you, and he who began a good work in you is going to carry it out to completion, and there's nothing you can do to ruin that. Grace and peace.
Anyone not experiencing peace right now? Anyone anxious? Anyone not sleep well last night? Good. Everyone is good. No one takes melatonin in here. And that's just the light stuff. No one is hooked on Ambien, nobody here. Everyone is having great night sleeps. No one is restless or frustrated in life. Great. Praise God.
Christ has purchased peace for us, yet so many of us are so anxious. We're so restless, yet he has set his affection upon us. He is at work in our lives. If you ever question if God cares, all you have to do is look at the fact that you know Jesus Christ. You don't know Jesus because you found Jesus; you know Jesus because God set his affection on you. He chose you. He convicted you. Do I really have to go through it again?
If you wonder if he cares, all you have to do is look at what he has done, because that will remind you that even when you can't see him doing something, he's doing something. I mean, I think about who is writing this. It's Peter. Peter was a guy who suffered a lot for his faith. I think about this one story in the book of Acts where James has been put to death by Herod because of his faith, and what does Herod do? He sees how pleasing it is to the people that he put James to death, so he arrests Peter. The plan, we think, is for him to put Peter to death.
Look at what we find Peter doing. Acts 12:6 says, "Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping…" It's peace. How can Peter have that kind of peace? Well, because he was in a really sweet setup, even though he was chained to soldiers. He was in a really sweet setup because, if he were to die, he was going to go and be with God. If he was going to live, he was going to get to see God supernaturally, miraculously sustain him each day until death.
Here's the good news: if you are right with God, then everything else in the world can be wrong. Everything in your world can be crashing down if you're right with God. Why? Because God is either going to take you home to be with him or he's going to miraculously sustain you even through the toughest nights, and one day he will take you to where he is. There's peace. He has set his affection upon you. He's with you. He has been working, he is working, and he will work until the day he takes you home.
I just think about that note my coach wrote me where he said, "This is not who I know you to be." I wonder if this morning this message is, in some way, a note from God to you, just looking back over the last few weeks or the last few months, and him saying, "This isn't who I know you to be. You're elect exiles. Don't forget that. I've chosen you. I've set my affection upon you, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and the sprinkling with his blood."
So, this morning, my encouragement to you is this: remember who you are. Let's pray together. I just want to encourage you to do business with the Lord. Just take a moment right now. Would you let that sink in that God has set his affection upon you? Is your life marked by grace and peace? If not, sit with the Lord on it and invite his work in your life.
If you're here this morning and you don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and you're like, "Today I want to be on Jesus' team," there is nothing keeping you. All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Right now, in this moment, would you cry out to God through prayer? Would you invite Jesus in to be your Lord and Savior?
We love you, Lord Jesus. Would you come and move in our hearts? We thank you for your love for us. We thank you for all that you have done behind the curtain to bring us into a right relationship with you. We worship you. In Jesus' name, amen.