Tonight, as I mentioned to you, we are going to spend just a few moments bringing to a conclusion our study of "Chosen by God" from 1 Peter 1:1 and 2. Will you turn to that text and we are in store for wonderful riches tonight as we share together in God's precious truth.
Peter opens this epistle, as you know, by calling his readers "chosen...chosen." What a tremendous thought. We are the chosen of God. Those who came to be baptized tonight were chosen by God for the privilege of knowing Him through His Son Jesus Christ. This is not new, it has always been God's pattern to choose sovereignly. Nehemiah chapter 9 verse 7 tells us, "God chose Abram." Genesis 21:12 tells us, "God chose Isaac." Romans 9:8 through 15 says, "God chose Jacob." The prophet Haggai in chapter 2 verse 23 says, "God chose Zerubbabel." Isaiah 42:1 and 1 Peter 2:6 says, "God chose Christ."
The gospel of John even reminds us the words of our Lord in John 15 that He chose the disciples, the Apostles. Galatians 1:15 tells us that He chose Paul, a chosen vessel. And here we are again confronted with the fact that He chose the church by sovereign choice, God elected those who would belong to Him. We remember Ephesians 1 where it says in verse 4, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world." And 2 Thessalonians 2:13, "God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation."
And we've been examining this great and rich truth that we are the chosen of God. Peter begins his epistle with that because he wants to remind his persecuted brothers and sisters that they may not be the chosen of the world but they are the chosen of God. They may not be choice by the world's standard but they are choice by God's standard. His purpose for them unfolds throughout all eternity no matter what the world may do. They are at the time he writes being rejected, persecuted, suffering for their faith and he reminds them that they are God's chosen people. What a tremendous encouragement that is to persecuted believers.
And as he introduces the fact that they are chosen, he gives us some of the elements of the great doctrine of election. In the word "chosen" is the nature of our election. That is we are the select of God by His grace. He then discusses the condition of our election, because we are the elect we reside, verse 1 says, as aliens. We don't belong here. We are citizens of another kingdom, members of another family. We are aliens here in temporary exile, if you will. That's the condition of our election.
Thirdly, the source of election in verse 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. God chose us based upon a pre- determined relationship. We are chosen by God based upon His own foreknowledge. And we said that does not mean foresight, that does not mean information gained by observation, that is a pre- determined relationship. That same term, foreknowledge, is used in chapter 1 verse 20 where it says Christ was foreknown before the foundation of the world. It cannot mean that God chose Christ to be the Savior on the basis of foresight or observation, it must mean a pre-determined relationship and plan, deliberate design. So the source of our election is bound up in God's pre- determined plan called foreknowledge.
The sphere of our election came next. And we noted in verse 2 that we enter into the actual experience of our election by the sanctifying work of the Spirit. That is, election becomes a reality in the life of the chosen person through the setting apart work of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification means to set apart. We were set apart from sin. We were set apart from the world. We were set apart from being children of Satan to being children of God. We were set apart from death unto life. That's the sanctifying or setting apart work of God's Holy Spirit.
Sanctification then began at salvation and is a process of purification that goes on until we see Jesus Christ face to face. We have been chosen, says Ephesians 1:4, to be holy. We have been chosen to pursue holiness. And so the sanctifying work begins at salvation when we're set apart from sin to God, from death to life, from Satan to Christ and then that setting apart continues progressively until we get more and more holy and more and more like the Lord Jesus Himself.
So the sphere of our election is an environment of sanctification. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit makes the unholy holy.
Now that brings us fifthly, and those were just reviews, to the purpose of our election in verse 2. The sanctifying work of the Spirit has been done, "That you may obey Jesus Christ." Now listen to this, it's very basic. We were set apart from sin to God in order that we might obey Jesus Christ. Obedience then is the byproduct. Ephesians 2:10 says that we have been made masterpieces, as it were, the workmanship of God ordained unto good works which God has predetermined that we would do. In other words, salvation is by definition a life of obedience. A very important truth. We have been set apart to God by the work of the Spirit in order that we may obey Jesus Christ, that is consequent to the previous realty. Election then brings through salvation to a life of obedience. Now we don't obey as we ought to obey fully but we are nonetheless redeemed unto obedience, separated unto obedience.
It becomes a pattern in our new life. We become submissive to the law of God, Romans 7. We become submissive to God as our Master, Romans 6, no longer the slaves of sin but now the servants of God. Righteousness characterizes our behavior. Virtue is a pattern of our life. We become faithful and fruitful and serving and loving Christ. True salvation produces obedience...not perfect obedience but obedience.
In 1 Timothy 6:3 Paul says, "If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the doctrine conforming to godliness." And what he means there is that the true doctrine of Christ, the true doctrine of salvation has inherent in it a conforming to godliness. The blessed reality of salvation yields the lovely fruit of obedience and that, too, is the work of the Spirit.
Would you look with me for a moment at 1 Thessalonians 1 where Paul writes along with his companions Silas, or Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians? He gives thanks to God always for them, verse 2. Verse 3, he bears in mind their work of faith, labor of love, steadfastness of hope. And then he says in verse 4, notice this, that he knows brethren beloved by God His choice of you. I know you're elect, he says. I know you're chosen. How do you know that? Because our gospel didn't come to you in word only but in power, in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction...notice verse 6...and you also became imitators of us and of the Lord. And verse 7, you became examples to all the believers. And verse 9, you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven. He says I know you're elect, how do I know? Because you said so, because you raised your hand, because you were once baptized? No. I know you're elect because you imitated us, you imitated Christ, you received the Word in tribulation, you experienced joy, you became an example. Verse 8, you sounded out the Word. Verse 9, you turned from idols. Verse 10, you're waiting for Christ. All factors of a regenerate experience, a regenerate life. Those are the things that mark true election. That's basic.
A.W. Pink poses this question, he says, "How may I know my election?" How may I know I'm elect? And then he answers it this way, "First, by the Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self- righteousness is renounced. Second, by the Spirit's having convicted me of my woeful guilty and lost condition. Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of an rest upon Him as my only hope. Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me, a love for God, an appetite for spiritual things, a longing for holiness, a seeking after conformity to Christ. Fifth, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it. Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned by God's Word and by sincerely repenting of humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this point will most surely and quickly bring a dark cloud over our assurance, causing the Spirit to withhold His witness. Seventh, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces and using all legitimate means to this end, thus the knowledge of election is cumulative."
How do you know you're elect? How do you know you're elect? Summing up what he said, you know it because the Word of God teaches you and moves into your life and convicts you of sin and shatters your complacency. You know it because all of a sudden your spirit has come awakened to your sin, to the reality of Christ, and then you receive that new nature, you love God, you love His Word, you long to serve Him, to glorify Him. You hate sin, you want to resist it, and so forth.
All of that really is in the commonest term reflective of an obedient heart. You obey the Word. You obey the conviction of the Spirit. You obey the work of Christ. You obey what the Scripture calls you to do. Obedience is the mark, it is the result, it is the response that comes to one who is truly redeemed.
So Peter is telling us then that that electing work produces obedience to Jesus Christ. Now you know what I've said about this through the years. It is not perfect obedience and where we fail there will be heart of brokenness and confession but it is characteristic of a true believer to obey Jesus Christ.
And then to seal that truth, Peter mentions the sixth aspect of election that I want to call to your attention. Let's call it, and there are many things we could call it, let's call it "the security of our election." We could even call it the obligation of our election or even the covenant of our election. But I want you to see it, it's profound...wonderful, practical.
He says this, "That you may obey Jesus Christ," and notice the next phrase, underline that in your Bible and in your mind, "and be sprinkled with His blood." That phrase needs very careful attention.
What does Peter mean that sprinkling blood on people is somehow connected to obedience? What does he mean? You say, "Well, he means salvation." No he doesn't. The chronology of the verse puts this as consequent to salvation. At what phrase did salvation occur in verse 2? At what phrase? "We were chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father," that was in eternity past, and then salvation occurred under the phrase...by the what? "sanctifying work of the Spirit." That's where salvation took place, it led to obedience and being sprinkled with His blood. It is consequent to salvation which is expressed in the phrase "sanctification by the Spirit."
But what does it mean then? What consequent to salvation act involves a sprinkling of blood? Well if you study Scripture as I did, pursuing this, there are only a few occasions when people were actually sprinkled with blood. And not at the atonement, not on the day of atonement were the people sprinkled with blood. On none of the occasions of the sin offerings, the trespass offerings, none of those was anyone ever sprinkled with blood. The altar was sprinkled with the animals' blood, the person was not.
In fact, blood was sprinkled on people in two cases in Levitical law. Very interesting, by the way. One of them was a leper and in the symbolic cleansing of a leper, Leviticus 14:6 and following, the blood of a bird was sprinkled on a leper. And the blood of a ram was sprinkled on Aaron and his sons in the symbolic cleansing and consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood, according to Leviticus 8, Exodus 29. The only two occasions. The blood of a bird sprinkled on a leper, Leviticus 14. The blood of a ram sprinkled on Aaron and the priests when they were set apart to the priesthood. Neither of those fit this. Peter's not talking about a leper. And he's not talking about priests.
What other occasion occurs in the Old Testament that comes to Peter's mind that has to do with sprinkling blood on people? There's only one and it only happened one time. And it is very clear that that is exactly what Peter has in his mind. It only occurred one time and it occurred before the Levitical legislation. It is outside the Levitical legislation. It was not a part of that legislation for Israel. Yet that one time is so significant that it is mentioned twice in Hebrews...Hebrews 9:19 and Hebrews 12:24, the only two times reference is made to this one incident.
Now let's go to find it in Exodus chapter 24. This is fascinating. Exodus chapter 24, I'm going to read verses 3 through 8, you follow as I read. "Then Moses came," Exodus 24:3, "and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances and all the people answered with one voice and said, All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do. And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the sons of Israel and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood from those offerings and put it in basins and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, the Word of God, the instruction from God, and read it in the hearing of the people and they said, All that the Lord has spoken, we will do and we will be...what?..underline that...obedient. So...verse 8...Moses took the blood and sprinkled it...where?...on the people and said, Behold, the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words."
There is the only occasion where blood was sprinkled on people other than the two we mentioned. It only happened one time. It is called the blood of the covenant.
Now let me track back through, listen very carefully and you'll see what this means. The main points to notice are these. Moses proclaimed to the people God's Word. And the people responded with a promise to do...what? Obey it, verse 3. All the words which the Lord has spoken, we'll do. Moses then wrote the words down. He built an altar. He sent young men to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings of oxen to Jehovah. And then half of the blood of those sacrifices he sprinkled on the altar and the rest, according to verse 6, he put in some kind of bowls or basins. He then took the book of the covenant which is the Word of God that he had written, he read it before all the people again and they answered with another promise of obedience in verse 7, they said, "We'll do it all, we'll be obedient."
Now listen carefully. They were making a covenant of obedience with God mediated through sacrifice. It was a promise of obedience. The other half of the blood, Moses then took from the basins and on the people he sprinkled it saying, "Behold, the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words," verse 8.
In ancient times when two people made a covenant, that covenant was usually cut in blood. And on occasion that blood was placed usually on both parties. And that was a blood covenant of commitment to keep a pact. It was common in ancient cultures. And it happened that day. And the covenant was this, we promise, O God, that we will do...what?...obey Your Word. It was a covenant of obedience...a covenant of obedience...sealed in blood.
The primary purpose of sprinkling blood was to consecrate, to obligate the parties in the covenant. There was a bond being made between God and the people. Now follow this, you don't want to lose this because there is a tremendously thrilling conclusion to this. There is a bond made between the people and God. The people are promising to keep His Word. And the blood on them indicates their part of the covenant. The blood on the altar indicates God's part of the covenant. Sprinkling the blood on the people symbolized their commitment to obedience. Sprinkling the blood on the altar symbolized God's commitment to faithfulness. And I believe that is exactly what Peter had in mind. That is the only place in Scripture where you have that connection between obedience and the sprinkling of blood. And Peter, of course, being a Jew and knowing that passage well finds in it a tremendous parallel for the Christian and the matter of election.
Listen, when these believers were saved to whom Peter wrote, when they were saved by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, making their past election a present reality, they were brought into a covenant with God that was sealed by blood...sealed by blood. It was a covenant of obedience.
Can I submit to you that in the death of Jesus Christ there was not only provided in the new covenant salvation, but also there was bound in that a covenant of obedience? When we come and accept the sacrifice of Christ for us, we are not just accepting the benefit of His death on our behalf, we are covenanting with Him in obedience. And that is consecrated by blood by the death of Christ. The sprinkling of the blood on the altar is seen in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross satisfying God. In fact, you might be interested to know that Jesus when He died quoted Exodus 24, the exact words when He spoke of His sacrifice as "the blood of the covenant." And inherent in the new covenant was a promise. And the promise was that the Lord would come and redeem us and we would respond to keep His Word. To create a salvation without that covenant is to create a false covenant.
The sprinkling of blood presupposed a shedding of blood. The consecration of the new covenant presupposed the sacrifice on the cross. Where Christ offered His life blood for the sake of man at the will of God, He did it in order that there might be a covenant.
Peter's point, summing it up, is this. The work of Christ satisfies God as He dies as a perfect atonement for sin. But it goes beyond that and it brings men into a covenant of obedience sealed in blood. A vital and profound truth. And so we say that what Peter is concluding is that when you were set apart by the Holy Spirit, you were set apart to God for a life of obedience sealed in the blood of Christ. Obedience is inseparable from sprinkling of blood. When Christ shed His blood there was a covenant of obedience provided. That's why it says in Acts 5:32, "We are witnesses of these things, so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him." Obedience is inherent in the covenant. Salvation and obedience are two sides of the new covenant. They are two sides of the new covenant.
In Romans 6 about verse 17, I believe, "Thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient." You can't talk of salvation without talking of obedience. You can't talk of a new covenant without talking of obedience. And the blood was sprinkled symbolically on us as our part of obedience and on God as His part of faithfulness. We have been elect to obey...elect unto obedience.
And there's one more thought, and this is one that thrills me. Listen to this. You say, "Well now, why the blood sprinkled on the altar? What is God's part?" Listen to this. The blood sprinkled on us symbolizes our commitment to obedience. The blood sprinkled on the altar on God symbolizes His commitment to forgiveness. Did you get that? To grace. Marvelous thought. That's the covenant. The covenant is "we promise to obey." And God promises to forgive when we don't. Is that a marvelous covenant? That's what the blood provided. That's the two sides of the covenant of obedience and that's the security of our election. We are secure as elect because of the covenant. We are brought into a covenant of obedience and our life is characterized by obedience...and if you say to someone "become a Christian and don't worry about obedience," you're not giving them the true message. When you call someone to salvation you are calling them into a covenant. Our part is obeying and God's part is forgiving when we fail. And that's the covenant...that's the covenant.
When you come to God through Christ you say, "O God, I give my life to You, I want to obey You. I promise to live for You, to love You, to serve You as best I can." And you're sprinkled with the blood of Christ symbolically and your sins are washed. You become His child. The blood sprinkled on the altar on His part is His bond to you that when you fail to keep that covenant He is eager and gracious to forgive your sin. Tremendous thought, tremendous thought.
The security of our election comes in the fact that not only were we sprinkled in the covenant, but God in the altar was sprinkled and He'll keep His side when we fail to keep our side. The same blood that sealed the covenant covers the sin of the disobedient Christian. That's the security of our election. That's why He keeps on cleansing us from all...what?...sin. What a truth.
So we see the truth of election: its nature, condition, source, sphere, purpose, security...lastly the advantages of our election. And I'm just going to extrapolate off of the concluding statement in verse 2, "May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure." That is repeated oft in the New Testament by the writers of the epistles. The gift of salvation is grace, the result is peace. Peter says I want you to have it in abundance, that's his wish. It's an optative verb, you Greek students know that expresses a wish. I wish for you grace, I wish for you peace in maximum measure, I wish for you all the best, all that God has, all that God can give...multiplied again and again and again.
In other words, I wish you all the blessings of being the elect. Isn't that good? Now let me tell you something. There's some tremendous blessings in being elect. Can I jump off Peter's thought and close by just giving you a little list?
What are the advantages of election? We think about the doctrine of election and we sort of shrivel up, we don't want to talk about it, it's too deep, too confusing, too hard to understand. Let me tell you what election ought to raise in your heart, the responses that it ought to have. You shouldn't run from it you should run to it. You shouldn't be afraid of it, you should rejoice in it. Here's why. Election is, first of all, the most pride-crushing doctrine in Scripture. That's right. It produces humility. It is the most humiliating truth there is, that you had absolutely nothing to do with your salvation. It just crushes your spiritual and religious pride. Spurgeon called it the most stripping doctrine in the world, it strips you of everything. He wrote this, "I know nothing, nothing again that is more humbling than this doctrine of election. I have sometimes fallen prostrate before it when endeavoring to understand it, but when I came near it and the one thought possessed me `God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation,' I was staggered by that mighty thought. And from the dizzy elevation down came my soul, prostrate and broken saying, `Lord, I am nothing, I am less than nothing, why me? Why me?'" It is a pride-crushing doctrine and that is a blessing because God gives grace to the humble.
Secondly, it is a God-exalting doctrine, it gives all the glory to God. It declares that repentance is from God, that faith is from God, that the power for obedience is from God. That even when we fail, His part of the covenant is to cover our failures. No wonder we respond, "Not unto us...not unto us, O Lord, but to Thy name give glory." Psalm 110:3 says, "He made us willing in the day of His power." The very fact that our will acted was a result of His movement. It is the most God-exalting element of the doctrine of salvation just as it is the most pride-crushing element.
Thirdly, it is joy producing...it is joy producing. Listen, folks, our only hope is to be elect. Did you get that? That's our only hope. So that brings us supreme joy. When I think about the fact that God chose me, that is the supreme joy because I would have no hope of salvation apart from that. I would have no hope if God in His sovereign mercy had not chosen me. What a joyous thought. It fills my heart.
Romans chapter 9, "Except the Lord had left to us a posterity we would have become as Sodom," verse 29. We'd be destroyed like the rest of the ungodly if the Lord hadn't chosen us. Psalm 65:4 says, "Blessed is the man whom you choose," listen to this, "and cause to approach you that He may dwell in your courts," Psalm 65:4, "Blessed is the man whom you choose..." O, beloved, that ought to inspire joy to know that God has loved us with an everlasting love. As I said a few weeks ago, that you've been in His heart since He's been God and He's been God forever. God has loved you since He was God and He's always been God and He'll always love you.
Fourthly, it is the most privilege-granting doctrine in salvation. It is the most pride-crushing, God-exalting, joy- producing, privilege-granting truth because it grants to us all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 1:3 says. We receive benefit upon benefit upon benefit. We have been made, according to chapter 2 verse 9, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God's own possession in order that we might proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into light. Look at the privileges we have, incredible privileges out of election. You ought to love that doctrine. You ought to cling to that doctrine.
Fifthly, it is the most holiness-promoting of the elements of salvation. What...what other more compelling thing could there be for me to live to the glory of God than to know that He chose me out of His own love? Out of absolute gratitude I should be compelled to a life of purity. I really feel, people, that when the doctrine of election is not properly taught and understood, people run around under the assumption that they did something for their salvation and because they feel that it was partly them, they are not compelled to serve and love and glorify the God whose alone was the will and the act of salvation.
You don't help people by not having them understand this. Why do you think Paul in Colossians 3:12 says, "And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience," and so forth. Get your act together because you're the chosen of God. What a compelling thing, what an absolutely compelling thing that is. Election should produce obedience.
Spurgeon again said, "Nothing under the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit can make a Christian more holy than the thought that he is chosen. Shall I sin, he says, after God has chosen me? Shall I transgress after such love? Shall I go astray after so much loving kindness and tender mercy? Nay, my God. Since thou hast chosen me, I will love Thee, I will live to Thee, I will give myself to Thee to be Thine forever, solemnly consecrating myself to Thy service," end quote. It's a compelling thing.
Sixthly, the doctrine of election is the most strength- giving of the elements of salvation. What do you mean? If I'm the elect, I'm secure. If I entered into a covenant of obedience through the sprinkling of blood and the blood was sprinkled on the altar representing God, it means that God is bound to keep covenant. My part is to obey, His part is to forgive my disobedience, I'm secure in that. It's the most strength-giving element to know that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, or perfect it. Jesus said, "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out, all that the Father gives to Me, will come to Me, I've lost none of them, I'll raise them all up at the last day." Why? They're the elect.
Listen, beloved. If you are elect, that seals your eternity. What a strengthening truth that is. And again I go back to what Spurgeon said on this subject, listen to this rather lengthy quote but rich quote. He said, "No man will be so bold as he who believes that he is elect of God. What causes he for...what cares he, rather, for man if he is chosen of his maker? What will he care for the pitiful chirpings of some tiny sparrows when he knows he is an eagle of a royal race? Will he care when the beggar points at him? When the royal blood of heaven runs in his veins? Will he fear though the whole world stand against him? If earth be all in arms abroad, he dwells in perfect peace for he is in the secret place of the tabernacle of the Most High, in the great pavilion of the almighty. I am God's, says he, I am distinct from other men. Is not my name written in God's book? Does he care for the world? Nay, like the lion that careth not for the barking dog, he smiles at all his enemies. And when they come to near him, he moves himself and dashes them to pieces. He walks about them like a Colossus, while little men walk under him and understand him not. His brow is made of iron, his heart of flint. What doth he care of man? Nay, if one universal hiss came up from the wide world he would smile at it and say, he that hath made his refuge God shall find a most secure abode."
That's right. What do we fear? We're the elect. Nothing can make a man more bold, more strong, more courageous, more secure than that. You see how wonderful this doctrine is. Wonderful doctrine. It crushes our pride, makes us humble. It exalts our God. It produces joy...joy from deep down within. It grants privileges, compels holiness, gives strength and boldness. Can you ignore that kind of doctrine? If the church ignores that doctrine look what it loses, look what it misses. Tremendous truth.
Beloved, we need to understand what God has given us in His grace and we need not to be ignorant because in every doctrine that God provides there is the privilege of giving a response of praise to Him. And therefore to be ignorant of the doctrine of election would be to be retarded in an ability to praise and glorify God. Let's pray together.
Father, what a wonderful evening we've shared. We bless You for this. How thankful we are for Your choosing us. We are awestruck and yes we do not fully understand it. But, O God, how we rejoice in it, how we rejoice in it. We are in the covenant of obedience. When we came to Christ it was our heart's desire to obey Him. And we're so thankful that it was Your desire and Your promise through blood to forgive our disobedience. We like Israel of old have made the grandiose promise that we will obey and we like them have failed. Thank You for the blood that covers those failures. Thank You for choosing us. Thank You for choosing these precious young people tonight who were baptized. Thank You for choosing Your church. O mystery...mystery, mystery but what is mystery to our intellect is sunshine to our hearts. Thank You for what You've done for us. Amen.