Tuesday, June 29, 2010

1 Peter 1 – Look like your Father

1 Peter 1

[Any time you see a "therefore" in Scripture, it's important to ask "what came before", what is the premise that makes the "because" for what is to follow? In 1 Peter we have been studying the "because" the motivation for what is to follow. Because, you are elect according to the foreknowledge of God – verse 2. Because, God has begotten us again (born again) to a living hope – verse 3. Because, we have an incorruptible inheritance – verse 4. Because we are kept by the power of God – verse 5. Because the genuineness of our faith is tested by trials – verses 6 & 7. Because the prophets and angels desired to know the plan, but it was revealed to us, for us – verses 10 – 12.]

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

[Because of all this, "gird up your loins", that means get ready for action, be ready to run be ready to fight! Prepare your mind, get serious, focus, get your game face on, because it's time to get to work. Next we see "rest your hope". Now that's confusing first he says "gird" for action, now he says "rest". Which is it? Well this isn't the kind of rest where you relax, this is rest in the sense that a building rests on its foundation. So we rest the building of our hope on the foundation of God's grace.

So if the foundation of our hope is the grace of God, then why should our mind need to be ready for battle?

In Roman's 7 Paul tells us the Law cannot save us because of the weakness of the flesh, then he concludes with this:

22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

Paul concludes that his spirit will desire to serve God, his body will desire to serve sin, but the mind can be trained, through the word of God, to break the tie and serve God. So Peter and Paul are both preparing us, warning us to be ready for the battle of the mind.]

14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;

[As "born again children of God" we should change our likeness from that of a sinner,

John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

4:21 if indeed you have heard Him (Jesus) and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.]

15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

[So lust and sin is in the mind of the "old man" of the flesh, but holiness is to be in the new mind of the believer. Be Holy for I am Holy that's in Leviticus 11, 19 and 20. Your Heavenly Father is Holy, so how can we be his obedient children if we continue to walk according to our former lusts?

Romans 12:2 

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

So we must renew our minds daily by the word of God, transforming ourselves in the likeness of Christ, but not by ourselves as the Holy Spirit is always there to help us follow in the way of Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15)]

17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;

[So our foundation is the Grace of God, and our building is to reflect the holiness of God that is in Christ Jesus. We do not lay a foundation of works, but we work knowing that our works will be judged by God.

1 Corinthians 3

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it
endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

It is a fool who lives as if there is no judge and no judgment. The reward or the loss of each person's works is eternal, just as salvation and condemnation are also eternal.]

18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

[Innocent blood is the price of redemption. From the book of Exodus we learned the price was a lamb for a house, this is the Passover lamb. Israel still observes the Passover thousands of years after their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Why do they still observe the Passover, if they are no longer slaves? Because each time they forgot the God who delivered them, captivity was just around the corner. Babylon, Media Persia, Syria, God used these enemies of Israel to judge his people whenever they turned away from God. This is our reminder, the redeemed are no longer slaves to sin, so don't live like sin is your master.]

20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

[Verse 20 refers back to verses 10-12, "foreordained" comes from the same word as prognosticate, to know what would happen before it did. The suffering of Christ was known to God, he knew it would happen, but still he sent his son. Because, He also knew that He would raise Him from the dead.

Who would willingly send their child to suffer for their enemies? God, It's a one word answer. So who's glory should the lives of the redeemed reflect? It's the same one word answer. We are saved by grace, through faith in Christ. As a new creation in Jesus we have been "prepared" by God for Good works (Ephesians 2:10)]

Ephesians 2:8-22 

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9
not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Brought Near by His Blood

11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Christ Our Peace

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Christ Our Cornerstone

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.


[So works cannot possibly be the "source" of our salvation, because of the weakness of the flesh. But by preparing our minds with the word of God, we fulfill God's purpose, God's will, for our lives. In this was we reflect God's glory, we begin to look like our Holy Father. God is building an eternal temple of worship and praise out of grace, and faith, and love , and obedience in Jesus, and all those redeemed by him. We are conformed to the image of Christ, building on the foundation of grace (Romans 8:29)

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son..]

Friday, June 25, 2010

Predestination – The TULIP Outline

Total Depravity:


Every aspect of mankind has been touched and corrupted by the effects of sin. There are no truly good, God pleasing impulses in man's sinful nature except as God gives them. The depravity is so great that man is unable to choose to have a relationship with God. In order to be saved, God must first change man's nature (being regenerated) before he can choose to believe in God.


Arminian's also believe that every aspect of mankind has been touched and corrupted by the effects of Sin. Unlike Calvinist's, Arminian's believe that while every aspect of man's nature has been negatively impacted by sin, Man is still able to believe in and to choose a relationship with God. Arminian's believe that this is only possible as the Holy Spirit enables, convicts, and draws the individual. Because of their sinful nature they would never come to God without His drawing and enabling them.


The fall of man has corrupted all of mankind and every aspect of the individual including his will. I believe all are judged guilty by our creator and are undeserving of any favor from God. Even a fallen man can respond to the call of God, by surrendering his sinful will to the mercy of God. In all cases it is God who draws the sinner to the reality of God's mercy and grace, through the scripture, the Holy Spirit, and the witness of prior converts.

Unconditional Election


People are chosen (elected) to be saved apart from (without looking at) anything within the individual. That means that God did not choose them to be saved because He saw that at some point they would come to faith in Jesus Christ. There is nothing within the person that causes or persuades God to choose to bring them to salvation. All those whom God desires to bring to faith and belief in Jesus, will ultimately believe.


God chooses (elects) those either: 1. Whom He foresees (that is looking into the future) will one day believe, or 2. The "Church" (The mass of those who believe) are the Chosen. An individual is part of the "Elect" as he is a part of Christ's body (a believer). The choosing (or electing) is based upon what the individual will ultimately do: come to faith in Jesus.


God has chosen to redeem mankind at many times in history including (but not limited to) the birth, and death of Jesus Christ. God chooses to call or draw the individual according to his own will, pleasure, and purpose, without regard to any perceived virtue on the part of the individual. God has not disclosed in the scripture the council of his will in determining whom to call unto himself.

Limited Atonement


Calvinist's believe that Jesus died on the cross only for those whom God would choose to save. Jesus did not die or provide salvation for those whom God does not draw to salvation (and God only draws some people effectually, not all). Jesus died only for His "Sheep" (that is those whom the Father would regenerate and save).


Arminianism teaches that Jesus loves and died for every person who ever lived. His Atonement and death on the cross are for every human being. Each individual though must have faith in Jesus though in order for the atonement to be applied to them (that is, everyone is not forgiven because of Jesus' atonement, only those who accept Jesus' death in their place).


Jesus died for all men and his atoning death would be sufficient to redeem all mankind. Redemption however consist of more than just atonement, it also requires repentance of the sinner (surrender of his will) in response to the gospel call.

Irresistible Grace


Calvinism teaches that God only draws those He Elects (chooses to believe). For those that He draws, it is "Irresistible." This means that God through His power brings to saving faith all whom He chooses. None that He draws will refuse. (Remember, their nature is changed – regeneration – so that faith is now possible).


Arminianism teaches that God draws in some measure every human being. It also teaches that people are able to resist the Holy Spirits drawing and convicting and eventually choose not to come to God or exercise a saving faith in Him. Man is not able to choose to come to God without the drawing/convicting, and empowering of the Holy Spirit. Once provided this "enablement" which helps to overcome for a brief time the effects of the sin nature, man must ultimately choose to accept or reject a relationship with God.


Creation itself declares the glory of the Lord, so all man can be aware of God's existence, but the natural man is unaware of his fallen state apart from the grace of God and conviction of the Holy Spirit. A sinner made aware of his need for salvation through the Spirit still must surrender his will to the mercy of God. Many of the redeemed resist the grace of God, when first made aware of their sin. It is therefore through the loving patience of the sovereign Lord, that we are finally able to trust in Christ.

Perseverance of the Saints


All those who are saved will never lose (or reject) their salvation. Since their "true" natures have been permanently changed, they will not (cannot) fall into habitual patterns of sin. They will never permanently fall away from their walk with God. They will continue to display the "Fruit of the Holy Spirit" in their lives. If there is no "Fruit" (characteristics of the Holy Spirit) they are not saved nor were they ever saved.


Arminian's believe in "conditional perseverance". Believers persevere only as they continue to exercise or hold to their faith in God. Sin's do not cause an individual Christian to lose their salvation. It is possible for a believer to reject their faith and relationship with Christ. This purposeful rejection and walking away from their salvation given to them by grace and faith is Jesus can result in the loss of their salvation.


In order to grow in grace, to exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit the believer must continually abide in Christ, this requires a daily subjugation of the individual will to the will of God. A man once born of the Spirit will battle the corrupt influence of his human desires, with varying degrees of success, for the remainder of his natural life. It is this struggle that makes believers yearn to be free of this vessel of flesh, and put on the eternal form of Christ likeness. This is the destiny of all who are born again. Those devoid of this heavenly desire were never truly converted.

1 Peter 1 – Back to the Future

A Heavenly Inheritance - 1 Peter 1    

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen[a] you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

[Continuing with our study of 1 Peter, this letter is to the elect pilgrims living away from Jerusalem. Last week was on the hope of our eternal inheritance, the completion of our salvation. We continue this week with a close examination of our salvation.]

10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,

[Remember even decades after the ascension of Christ the scripture most accessible, especially to Jews in the church, is the Old Testament. Using the prophets of old to teach of messiah. What we learn here is how much the prophets longed to see the promise of messiah revealed. So much so that through the Holy Spirit and the scripture the searched and inquired to learn all they could about the messiah to come. But even though the redemption of mankind was not complete (before the passion of Christ) the prophets were still saved by faith in a promise not yet fulfilled.

Hebrews 11:40 says of these prophets "that they should not be made perfect apart from us" – meaning that our salvation and theirs was one in the same.

11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

[Even as the prophets were writing of the "grace that would come", they wanted to know when messiah would appear, hoping that they might God's promise, see with their own eyes. Yet even in the dim light of revelation, through the Spirit of Christ, they knew Christ must suffer, and that God's glory would follow.]

12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.

[Through the Spirit, It was revealed to the prophets that they were not writing prophecies that they themselves would see fulfilled. But their prophecy was for us. So beautiful is the scripture foretelling Jesus, that angels "desire" meaning they press forward to see the wonderful words of God's promised revealed. How blessed are we, that all this was done for our benefit. Redemption is God's eternal plan, and every step of its completion is exciting. Now you understand how the angels rejoice over each sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10)]


(See separate document on Predestination the TULIP outline)

Go to Romans 8:29-30

Luke 13

 1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

[Simple logic question – If grace really is irresistible like some holy bolt of lightning why would it be necessary to repent?]

Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

[throughout Peter's preaching we see him call men to repent, to reconsider their unbelief, and surrender to the call of God.]



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

1 Peter 1 – The Apostle to the Elect

1 Peter 1

Greeting to the Elect Pilgrims

 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

[Right away we know who is writing and who he is writing to. Peter is frequently listed as first among the apostles, and the leader of the church of Jerusalem. Now this doesn't mean what the Roman church says it does.

Matthew 16:18 

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

When Jesus called Simon by the name Peter the Greek word "Petros" it means a piece of rock. The other two words for rock are "lithos" which is a rock carved for a particular purpose like a millstone or a corner stone, and "petra" which is a mass of stone like a mountain, or as I always think of it The Rock of Gibraltar. "Upon this rock I will build MY church" uses "petra" not "petros". If you think about it Peter's name is still a great honor because Jesus could be saying you are a piece or a part of me. Jesus changed a fisherman to an apostle that shared in the salvation and the suffering of incarnate God! Because he redeems us, we like Peter, share in the inheritance of God's kingdom, but Christ remains the head of the church.

Peter is writing to "pilgrims of the Dispersion", those who have been scattered. I Peter 5 tells us he was in Babylon with the local church there, when he wrote this letter. This is modern day Iraq. The Roman Catholic Church trying to make Peter the "Bishop Apostle of Rome" the first Pope, say he was in Rome from AD 42-67 so they see Babylon as code for Rome because of the idolatry and debauchery they practiced.

Biblically they have a lot of problems trying to establish Peter as a constant Christian presence in Rome:

1. In A.D. 44 Peter was in prison in Jerusalem (Acts 12).
2. He was a prominent member of the Council of Jerusalem in A.D. 49 (Acts 15).
3. Soon afterward he was in Antioch, where Paul rebuked him for showing favoritism to the Jews and dividing the church (Gal. 2). Who can rebuke the Pope? Just a thought…
4. Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans in A.D. 56. The epistle makes no mention of Peter and contains no apology for interfering in the sphere of another apostle's labors. On the contrary, Paul says that he would not "build upon another man's foundation" (Rom. 15:20). There is no hint in this letter of anything like an apostolic visit to Rome by Peter or any other apostle.
5. In this same epistle (Romans), Paul greets two dozen people by name. The name of Peter is conspicuously absent.
6. When Paul at last arrives in Rome, he is met by a company of believers. Again no mention is made of Peter (Acts 28:15).
7. Paul met with a company of Jews while imprisoned in Rome, where they stated that they had heard nothing about Christianity (Acts 28:22). This seems hard to believe given Peter's supposed 17 year residence as "chief bishop" in the city.
8. While a prisoner in Rome (A.D. 59-61), Paul wrote four epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon) and names numerous people who were his helpers in the work at Rome. No mention is made of Peter, which, to say the least is very strange if Peter was the Bishop of Rome.

Another thing to note is Peter just calls himself "an apostle of Jesus Christ", he never asserts any authority other than being one of the twelve.

Many of the letters in the New Testament were written to one church, but Peter was writing to several "Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia", most of these places are now in modern day Turkey. To really grasp the meaning of the title "pilgrim" you need to grasp the level of persecution these scattered saints experienced. 1 Peter was written around AD 63 in the middle of Nero's reign as Caesar. The seed of persecution that was planted by Saul (Acts 8) and watered by Herod (Acts 12) was now growing rapidly and becoming organized and savage. What began as isolated acts of the Jewish authorities, or Jewish and Gentile mobs, gradually evolved into the official policy of the Roman government, which saw the refusal of Christians to participate in the state religion as a form of rebellion. One of the atrocities committed by Nero was to bind Christians, dip them in hot wax, then burn them like a candle. So when you see people suffer like this, for their faith, then you know you are a pilgrim, a stranger in a strange land, and this place is not your home. I don't usually take a page and a half of notes to do one verse, but this is what it took today.]

2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

[Peter calls these pilgrims "elect" or chosen. The apostle reiterates this concept in chapter 2 verse 9, "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."

This is reminiscent of Paul's address to the church at Ephesus, "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the council of His will" (Eph. 1:11).

Paul also said to the Thessalonians, "Be we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth" (2 Thess. 2:13). For similar phrasing see also: John 15:16; Rom. 8:29-30; I Cor. 1:27; Eph. 1:4-5; 2:10; Col. 3:12; I Thess. 1:4; and Titus 1:1.

Jesus said in John 6:44, "No man can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day". God has chosen people out of the world to belong to Him, and the church is that people. Jesus told His disciples in the Upper Room, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain" (John 15:16).

Those in love with the idea of free will tend to have a problem with election. But you need to understand that a fallen man also has sinful and wicked will. John 1 :12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The role of "free will" in salvation is for me to surrender my sinful will to the grace and mercy of God.

Peter continues saying we are elect "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father".

The Source of our salvation is God Himself. We love Him because He FIRST loved us (1 John 4:10).
It is only by God's grace that anyone is saved, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph. 2:8&9).

The Bible clearly states that man is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1), and that "There is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God" (Romans 3:11).

Throughout the Bible it is God who sovereignly initiates redemption. Think of Noah, Abram, Moses, the prophets, etc. Even in sending Christ, redemption was God's initiative. In Paul's conversion, God took sovereign initiative.

Some have a difficult time with God's sovereign foreknowledge when it comes to our salvation. They will trust God's sovereignty in our birth (Psalm 139; Jer. 1:5), but not in our re-birth (Eph. 1:5). They will trust God's sovereignty in our circumstances (Rom. 8:28), but not in our salvation (Rom. 8:29).

"Election", "foreknowledge", and "predestination" are not words or a doctrinal concept conjured up by man to confuse Christians. These are words and a doctrine given to us by God in His Word. They are not to be dismissed or avoided.

C. The sphere of salvation (v.2c)
"in sanctification of the Spirit"

The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit encompasses all that the Spirit produces in salvation: faith (Eph. 2:8), repentance (Acts 11:15-18), regeneration (Titus 3:5), and adoption (Rom. 8:16-17). Thus election, the plan of God, becomes a reality in the life of the believer through salvation, the work of God, which the Holy Spirit carries out.

It is God's Holy Spirit that convicts, quickens, cleans, and completes God's work of salvation in our lives!

At salvation the sanctifying work of the Spirit sets believers apart from sin to God, separates them from darkness to light, sets them apart from unbelief to faith, and mercifully separates them to a love of righteousness (John 3:3-8; Rom. 8:2; 2 Cor. 5:17; cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-16; Eph. 2:1-5; 5:8; Col. 2:13).

D. The sign of salvation (v.2d)
"for obedience"

While obedience to Jesus is NOT the source of salvation, it IS the sign of salvation. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Paul called it "the obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5).

Believers do not obey perfectly or completely (I John 1:8-10; Rom. 7:14-25), but nonetheless there is a pattern of obedience in their lives as they, through Christ, become servants of righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18; 8:1-2; 2 Cor. 10:5b).

E. The security of salvation (v.2e)
"and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ"

Peter's metaphor here looks back to the time in the Old Testament when blood was sprinkled on the people of Israel. That event is significant enough that the letter to the Hebrews mentions it once specifically and once by allusion (9:19-20; 12:24). You can read about it in Exodus 24:3-8.

Essentially a covenant was made between God and Israel. An altar was built and the blood of young bulls was shed. Half of the blood was placed on the altar (symbolizing God's agreement to reveal His law), and half of the blood was sprinkled on the people (symbolizing their consent to obey).

Peter states that when believers were spiritually "sprinkled" with Christ's blood, they entered a new covenant of obedience. The blood that sprinkles seals the covenant and secures the believer.

F. The sustenance of salvation (v.2f)
"Grace to you and peace be multiplied"

Each week when I send the class e-mail I sign it "Grace and peace". You see this greeting / blessing used 19 times in the New Testament by Peter, Paul and John. A few times Paul also adds "mercy" to the salutation. John even uses it to begin his address to the 7 churches in Asia, in the book of Revelation.

Peter wishes his readers God's grace and its resultant peace in maximum allotment or quantity. He wished for them all the best that God can offer believers, and that it would repeatedly increase to their advantage.

Peter wanted the recipients of his letter to experience all the rich and varied blessings of being God's elect. It is my hope that you walk in that grace and peace each week.]

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

James, Peter and Herod – Acts 12

Acts 12

Herod's Violence to the Church

 1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. 4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

[Before we have learned of the death of Stephen at the hands of religious zealots, but now Herod the King, the civil authority had killed one of the Apostles, James the brother of John. This is a shocking development for the church. The year is 44 AD, James was Part of Jesus' inner circle (Peter, James, and John), James saw the glorified Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. James was with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he saw the resurrected Lord. We see these apostles as more than men, with power and knowledge that exceeds our own, but James was still a man, and Herod had him beheaded with a sword.


Herod's popularity with the Jews shot up, so he decided to go after Peter too. The term "pleased the Jews" speaks of a long lasting satisfaction, so Herod's political stock got a permanent boost. It was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so Peter was jailed to be "delivered" to the people, meaning Herod would also kill Peter as a favor to the Jews, after the Holy days were completed. Perhaps hearing what happened before when the Apostles were jailed in Jerusalem (an angel released them), Herod uses 4 squads, at least 16 soldiers to keep him secure.]

Peter Freed from Prison

5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. 6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. 7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, "Arise quickly!" And his chains fell off his hands. 8 Then the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and tie on your sandals"; and so he did. And he said to him, "Put on your garment and follow me." 9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people."

[So at the end of the feast, Herod is about to bring Peter out to the Jews, but Peter, knowing Herod would kill him also, was asleep! What kind of peace allows you to sleep even when chained between two soldiers, with a death sentence waiting for the dawn? Only the peace of God: John 14:
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

As Peter slept the church prayed. We never know the full reason behind a loss like James, but we know it gave the saints urgency in their prayers. If we never go through trials we are not strengthened (recall the trees of the Biosphere).

Peter is sound asleep, and an angel strikes him and says get up, get dressed. Peter is thinking this is a dream, that he is still asleep. He sees the chains fall off, but it's still a dream. He gets dressed, but it's still a dream. They pass each guard post, but it's still a dream. Finally when they come to an iron gate that opens on its own, that the angels leaves, then Peter wakes up enough to realize this is no dream! Peter is free of the jail, the soldiers, Herod, and his certain execution.]

12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, "You are beside yourself!" Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, "It is his angel."
16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.

[Apparently Mary's house was a common meeting place for the saints. When Peter arrives the church is praying for him. A girl named Rhoda answers when Peter knocked, and she was so stunned to see Peter that she ran to tell the others without opening the gate! Imagine the scene as Rhoda interrupts the prayers to say "Peter is at the Gate", and they totally dismiss her saying "you are beside yourself". Others thought she had seen an angel. How ironic that the People praying for Peter are surprised that their prayer has been so quickly answered (not now God can't you see we are praying). Have you ever experienced an answer to prayer while you are still praying? It should happen all the time if we "pray without ceasing" as we are commanded (I Thessalonians 5:17).

All this time Peter is still outside the gate knocking. When they finally open the gate, they are astonished to see Peter has been set free]


17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren." And he departed and went to another place.
18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. 19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death.
And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.

[After Peter recalls the story for them, he sends word to the other apostles especially "James the son of Alphaeus" the other apostle James, the one who is still alive. Only after daylight there is a commotion among the soldiers, Peter is gone and none of them know how he got out of jail. Herod questions the guards hoping to get answers, but none of them know what happened. For soldiers watching an important prisoner this is a death sentence. If you lose a death-row inmate as a Roman soldier, you take his place at the execution. So it seems 16 soldiers were executed for failing to secure 1 apostle.]

Herod's Violent Death

20 Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king's personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king's country.

[Some sort of dispute existed between Herod and the port cities of Tyre and Sidon, and they feared a trade embargo would be enforced against them, so they asked a common friend to help calm the dispute, and they invite Herod for a visit.]

21 So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. 22 And the people kept shouting, "The voice of a god and not of a man!" 23 Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.
24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

[Herod's visit to the coast was like an official state visit, they set up the grand stand, probably had all the local dignitaries there to welcome him. Herod wore his best King clothes, and they put on a big celebration for Herod Agrippa I King of Judea. The history of Joseph says that they held games, like local Olympics in Herod's honor. When Herod gives is make nice speech, then crowd begins to chant "The voice of a god and not of a man", they were saying Herod you are a god to us. Herod just smiles and waves, drinking in all the adoration, probably thinking to himself "I am like a god". Then an angel of the Lord struck him with a terrible pestilence, because of his pride! The verse says that he was eaten by worms and died. The secular history of Josephus, doesn't know about the angel, he just says that Agrippa I died suddenly. The King that murdered one apostle, tried to hold another in jail, and thought himself to be god-like was struck by an angel, consumed by worms and died. Pride is a dangerous thing, and God does not share his glory with anyone. The bottom line was "the word of God grew and multiplied. It wasn't about James, Peter or even Herod; it was about fulfilling God's purpose and spreading the message of redemption to those who will repent. The humble are blessed, the prideful are struck down, and God is still glorified.]