It is the life that is obedient to God and separated from the world that provides the proof of one's conversion. If the Christian is legally cleared of guilt before God and obedient to Him, he no longer "belongs" to the world; the Bible no longer perceives such a person as being "in the flesh."
Philippians 3:20 offers understanding of another separation from the world: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." His spiritual separation produces for the Christian a legal transfer of citizenship that he must recognize.
Colossians 1:12-13 confirms this: "Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love." As a result of these separations, the Christian must live his life as a stranger and pilgrim as if in a foreign land, obeying the laws of his new nation by placing higher priority in his activities as a citizen of the Kingdom of God.
This opens the door to another line of practical thought, conduct, and attitude: "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself the enemy of God" (James 4:4). We normally do whatever we can to avoid our enemies, even to the point of fleeing from them if necessary. This reality should help us to understand why God commands us:
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? . . . Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." (II Corinthians 6:14, 17)
It is by means of conduct motivated by the Holy Spirit that we are to come out from among unbelievers and be separate. We cannot—we must not—straddle the fence; we cannot serve two masters. Once we are called, we must serve God, or we will have received God's grace in vain (II Corinthians 6:1).
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Seven)
This was written in about AD 65, and Peter is having to remind Christians of who they are. We have to be reminded of this because we are a special people to God. Peter focuses on the term "election," which is the very ground of consolation or encouragement because it means that God knows us. What kind of a gift is that? We are not a faceless blob to Him. He knows us personally and is watching over our lives!
The word election means "those sought out." God sought us out! Thus believing, understanding, and taking action on this truth is a major part of our hope, that is, that we are indeed special and known by God.
Peter also uses the term "foreknowledge," which intensifies "election." When the two of them are taken together in this context, it indicates that God not only foresaw us but caused our relationship to occur because we would have never found Him on our own. To this, the apostle then adds "sanctification." In this case, it means, not merely set apart, but dedicated for obedience, which Peter mentions. This suggests that God knows us, not merely because He wants to save us, but because He wants us to obey Him.
Taken together, these three terms indicate that God has given us a tremendous gift that not many people on earth have received. It is humbling because every gift carries with it the responsibility to make proper use of it in service to God's purpose.
The issue Peter is dealing with in this first chapter is why we can have hope: because we have been elected by God. He sought us out purposely to make us acquainted with Him. The Father is the Author of an act of mercy by which we are given a sure hope of being brought into our inheritance. We should be conscious of this without being maudlin or self-righteous.
Peter writes that we have been begotten to a "living hope." It is a living hope because Christ is alive, and in God's behalf, He will absolutely carry out His God-given responsibility to us to bring us into His Kingdom.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Trumpets Is a Day of Hope
First, Peter reminds us who we are. The term "elect" is the very ground of our comfort because it means (when connected to the foreknowledge of God) that God knows us personally. A lot of people would like to know that the President of the United States knows them personally, but God knows us!
Some like it to be known that they are known by some person they respect very highly. Whether the person is a millionaire or a billionaire, a well-known athlete or entertainer, or somebody well known in the area, people like to drop names. Peter says if there is any name you want to drop, drop God's. He knows you!
Before God called us, He watched our lives because He wanted to make sure that we would be able to work with Him and that He would not lose us. He is sure that with His help we can make it. He can prepare us for whatever He has in store for us.
That is the ground of our hope. God knows us, and because of this, He will do things for us. He is in the position to do them. All He has to do is give the word. God can open any door anywhere for us. And He will do what is right for us.
Peter goes on in verse 3 to say that He is the Author of an act of mercy by which He has given us a sure hope of being brought into our inheritance. Even though we may have to go through sore trial, it can be done! God has not given us something impossible to do. He has begotten us again to a living hope.
Our hope is living because Jesus Christ is alive! He is our High Priest. And He loves us in a way that we cannot even begin to understand. He loves us so much that He gave His life for us. He loves us so much that He is willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we will be in His Kingdom. We have access to the highest of all places. We have friends who have names and power so awesome that there is nothing greater.
We do not need to fear what is coming because God is able to bring us through it. If we had to face it ourselves alone, there would be no hope for us.
The apostle calls our inheritance "incorruptible" (verse 4). The contrast is being made between Canaan or Palestine and the Kingdom of God. Which is better?
Lastly, it is "undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation." Kept can easily be translated "guarded," "surrounded," "hedged in." God is watching out for us in a way that He is not watching out for this world. Because we are the apple of His eye, and because He is preparing us for something, Jesus Christ will faithfully discharge His duties as High Priest in our behalf. He is guarding us—protecting us—from the worst of what is going on around us.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Don't Be a Prudent Agnostic
The major theme of I Peter is to strengthen the feeble knees, as it is put in Hebrews 12:12, of his brothers and sisters in Christ who were buckling under the weight of their Christian burdens, whatever they happened to be. At the very beginning of this strong exhortation, then, he reminds them of their hope.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Resurrection From the Dead