1 Peter 1:1 "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen".
Over the past couple of days we have covered much ground in our biblical survey of the doctrine of Sovereign election. The Baptist Faith & Message notes: "Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility." We truly can agree with the BFM 2000's last statement of how Sovereign election is a truth that humbles. Election gives no room for boasting. Among the five main headings that we have discovered in summarizing the doctrine of election, the blessing of election, being that of comfort, defines Peter's mention of the doctrine in 1 Peter. In today's post we aim to understand Peter's use of Sovereign election.
Comparing Peter and Paul in their treatment of election.
1 Peter 1:1-2 has Peter diving into the deep end of the theological pool. Why would Peter begin his letter by opening with the doctrine of election? Because he knows that election's blessing brings comfort to the Christian. In 1 Peter 5:14 we see the purpose of the letter aimed at urging Christians to stand firm in their faith. It is instructive to compare Peter in 1 Peter 1:1-2 and Paul in Ephesians 1 to see what they teach about election:
a. Both begin their respective letters with the doctrine of election, Paul in Ephesians 1:4 and Peter in 1 Peter 1:1.
b. Both use election as a source of comfort for Christians, with Paul using it to urge his readers to walk worthy of their calling in Ephesians 4:1 and Peter urging his readers to endure persecution in 1 Peter 1:6-7.
c. Election and its purpose of godliness (predestination) and motive (love or foreknowledge) are mentioned in both texts.
What Peter teaches on election in His letter
Whenever you look at 1 Peter 1:1-2, you discover that Peter is discussing most if not all of the major themes of election found in the Bible.
a. Election's targets: Helpless people. 1 Peter 1:1
The people to whom Peter wrote were "scattered" and "aliens" throughout the regions of Asia and beyond. God had searched out each one of the people Whom He aimed to call, and convict unto salvation. I find it interesting that some of those provinces were people groups present at Peter's first sermon in Acts 2 as well as areas were the Apostle Paul had preached (i.e Galatia). God had more people to reach in the over 30,000 square mile region to which Peter wrote. God once again was giving these people another chance and He indicated that others who were chosen had responded in saving faith to the Gospel.
b. Election's motive: God's love. 1 Peter 1:2
Much like what we saw in Romans 8:29 yesterday, foreknowledge is the basis for God's electing grace. Foreknowledge, if you will recall, could also be just as easily translated "foreloving". God chose to set His affection upon those who dwelled in the areas whom Peter wrote. Every Chrisitan can say they have been loved by God from all eternity, even though they may had believed only a few days, months or years prior.
c. Election's purpose: Godliness. 1 Peter 1:2
Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:2 "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood...". What is the "sanctifying work of the Spirit" and "sprinkling of blood" referring to in Peter's text? As John MacArthur points out, both refer to the sphere in which God's electing purpose becomes a true reality in a person's life in saving faith. Unless the Spirit has set apart a person to be called and convicted to believe, no process of sanctification will occur. Election is the work of the Father wherein the work of the cross took place, which in turn is the grounds for the believer's salvation in saving faith.
We know that Peter is looking at election as being the driving force behind the Christian's growth in godliness due to what he writes in 1 Peter 2:9 "But 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."
Election's Blessings: Comfort. 1 Peter 1:2
Peter states at the end of 1 Peter 1:2 "May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure." As we already mentioned prior, Peter utilizes election to bring comfort to Christians who were suffering persecution. Being that they were chosen by God, that meant they were being kept by God and had access to all the blessings of grace and peace.
Election's timing: Eternity. 1 Peter 1:1-2
This final observation is reinforced by what we already saw in our comparison of Peter with Paul. Whenever you see words like "election' and "foreknowledge" in 1 Peter 1:1-2, you can assume they are referring to choices God made in eternity as Paul states in Romans 8:28-30 and Ephesians 1:1-5.
As we have surveyed Peter's teaching on election, we discover that there is perfect unity with that of Paul as well as the rest of scripture. We saw the five main truths of election are taught in 1 Peter like they are in Paul and the other sections of God's Word.