The Definition of the Strangers

Bible Book: 1 Peter  1 : 1-2
Subject: Encouragement; Dedication; Election; Christian Living
Series: Strangers In The Land
Introduction

Today I am going to begin a three-part series of sermons entitled, STRANGERS IN THE LAND.

Look with me at 1 Peter 1:1-2. Here we discover a description of God’s people as Strangers In The Land. The idea that believers are strangers in this world is a frequent one in Scripture. Abraham was called a "stranger" in Canaan (Genesis 17:8). The Psalmist declared himself a "stranger" living for God in the world (Psalm 39:12). In Psalm 119:19 he called himself a "stranger" and beseeched God not to hide the divine Word and Commandments from him. He realized that the only road map for a believer in this world is God's Word, God's direction.

Perhaps one of the most penetrating verses regarding our status as pilgrims and strangers appears in Hebrews 11:13, "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth."

Do you feel like a stranger in this world? I do, especially when I read some of the horrible things that people are doing to each other across America and the world. Terrorism, mass shootings, young women held for years as sex slaves, children beaten to death by their parents or caretakers, and babies killed in the womb by the millions are things that make Christians realize that this world is not our home. This is, indeed, a strange world!

I feel like a stranger in this world when I read that some have conceived a child for the express purpose of having an abortion so that the fetus can be sold to a laboratory which will use the tissue for medical research. For a number of years scientists decapitated a dozen live fetuses and kept the heads alive for study. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Only when the public became aware of this and the outcry was voiced by the people did this stop.

I feel like a stranger when I read of the child molestation, wife beatings, rapes, robberies, drive by shootings, drug deals, car thefts, and other villainous acts within our society. I feel like a stranger when I hear and read news reports that make evangelical Christians sound like a bunch of wierd, ignorant kooks who just don't know any better than to believe the Christian gospel. I feel like a stranger when politicians decry the fact that Christians cling to God and guns.

So, how are we to live in this world, where we are strange to most people and the world is strange to us? What is the lifestyle of the "stranger," the Christian supposed to be like in this world?

Today we begin by looking at a DEFINITION OF THE STRANGERS. We are going to take a few minutes and look at the description Peter gives us of the children of God. There are four things he tells us in these opening words.

One day in church a man saw a little red-headed boy in his class. The boy's hair was as red as a fire engine. He said to the little fellow, "Where did you get that red hair?" The little boy replied, "I don't know mister, it just came with my head!" What we are in Christ just came with the salvation. In this sinful world we need to be reminded of who we are, whose we are and what it means to us in our daily lives.

I. THE SELECTION

In the first part of verse 1 in our text today, Peter stated that he was writing to the "elect". What does he mean by the word elect? Every Christian has been elected or selected by God to be saved. This is important to remember. As you live each day in this world, remember that you have been called by God to be His child and to represent Him on this earth. No one can make a decision to come to Christ without being drawn by the Father (John 6:44). You see, man did not decide to discover God; it was God who reached out to us through His love and grace. When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, he did not seek God. Adam sinned and then he tried to hide from God. It was God who came seeking and calling for Adam. Likewise, we are not saved because we become righteous enough or smart enough to seek Him; we come to Christ because the loving God of heaven seeks us out and calls us to the Savior. God is not willing that any should perish, so you can be sure God is calling those who are unsaved to salvation, but without His call man would never seek the Lord. God's call is going forth into this world day and night, it is just that some people tune Him out, turn Him off or simply turn Him down!

Once we are called and we respond, we become aware that we are strangers in this world. Prior to our salvation we felt perfectly at home living on planet earth. suddenly, once we were redeemed through the blood of the Lamb, we realized what a strange, odd and fallen world we were living in.We are, in essence, ambassadors in a foreign land and our home is not of this world.

The songwriter penned:

"I am a pilgrim here, Within a foreign land,

My home is far away, Upon a golden strand,

Ambassador for thee, Of realms beyond the sea,

I'm here on business for my King." (Elijah T. Cassel, 1902)

Peter was reminding all believers that we are representatives for Christ because He called us to Himself.

The world is made up of two kinds of people, the “whosoever will” and the “whosoever will not”. The whole point of election is that God chooses you as if you were the only one being chosen. He loves you that much. You are saved when you hear His call and turn to Him in repentance and faith. From that moment forward, you are in the elect and you are a stranger on this earth. Your home is far away and on this earth you are His ambassador.

An ambassador who is unfaithful to the one who sends him is a traitor. It is hard to imagine America sending an ambassador to a foreign country only to discover that the ambassador is working in behalf of an enemy of our country. You are I are ambassadors for Christ and must remain faithful to Him in this strange land. Nothing can be more horrible than a Christian who lives in a way that is a traitor to the Savior.

II. THE SPRINKLING

In verse 2, Peter speaks of "sprinkling". What does this mean?

A. Covenant

In Exodus 24:6f we read of the sprinkling of the blood of the Covenant. This speaks of the binding agreement God made with us in His own blood. In the New Testament he made that covenant in the blood of his Son. “Berith,” is a Hebrew word which means "covenant" and it comes from the word meaning “to cut”. Jesus was cut for us and bled for us at Calvary. The Covenant God made with us is not a cheap thing, for it cost the blood of His Son to ensure it. Read Hebrews 11:28; Exodus 24:8; Hebrew 9:19.

B. Cleansing

In Leviticus 16:15 we read about cleansing. We see this idea numerous times in the Old Testament. Peter is using an Old Testament idea to reveal New Testament truth. You see, we are not cleansed with the sprinkled blood of a goat but through the shed blood of Christ. The blood of animals i the Old Testament was only a precursor and foreshadowing of that which Jesus supplied at the cross for us. Look at Hebrews 9:19.

Man is sinful, and his sinful nature has permeated his entire being. The only hope for sinful man is that the awful disease of sin be removed. Thankfully, there is a cure. We need to know that without the cure man is dead to God and condemned to be separated from God forever. Thanks be to God forever because He provides the cure. The blood of Jesus was shed at Calvary that we might be cleansed of our sinful nature.

No cure, however powerful and wonderful it may be, works unless it is applied. The doctor may provide the medicine to cure you of some awful, life-threatening disease, but the medicine is ineffective if it is left unopened and unused. Likewise, the call of God for us to come to Jesus for the cleansing of our sins is useless unless we respond to Him. When a person senses God's call to salvation, responds in repentance and faith, the blood of Jesus cleanses that person once and for all. It is a miracle of divine grace!

C. Commissioning

In Exodus 29:16, 19 we read about what appears to be a strange ceremony. Touching the right ear lobe, the thumb on right hand and the big toe on the right foot with blood from the altar was an Old Testament act of commissioning the Levites, the sons of Aaron, to serve God in their unique position as priests. Translate this to the New Testament and we note that the blood of Jesus has been applied for us and to us, and therefore we are commissioned as His representatives on this earth. Only those saved through the blood of Jesus can actually serve Him. All other service is like filthy rags before Him. We are a kingdom of priests to our Lord because He has applied the blood to our lives.

Let's unite the Old Testament anointing of the blood with a New Testament understanding for our lives and ministry to Jesus.

1. The Ear

The ear of the Christian should be attuned to God and should reject the impure sounds of this world. We are to listen to God as He speaks to us through His Word and His Spirit. Our calling is to obey His voice and not respond to the call of the world to our hearts and minds.

It is interesting to note that a mother can recognize her child's voice in the midst of many other children. Kids can be running around playing, talking, laughing, and even crying and she pays little attention to it. But when her child cries, she immediately leaps to her feet and runs to help. You and are are to be like that with our Lord. Many sounds call out for our attention, but we must have our ear open to His voice, His call and His will. We are to judge all sounds, all calls to and for our attention, and to respond based upon whether it comes from the Lord or the world.

2. The Thumb

The thumb of the Christian represents the hand of a child of God. During the Bible days, Kings knew that one way to keep a person from being a effective soldier against their armies was to remove the thumbs. A soldier could not hold a sword or fight properly without thumbs. Our thumbs, our hands, are to be dedicated to God. We are not to allow God's enemies to take away our effectiveness. When we are captured by sin, it often leads to a loss of an effective testimony for our Lord. In effect, Satan has attempted to cut off our thumbs and, thus, to make us useless in God's cause. We must commit to God with the work of our hands - the dedication of all that we do in this world! Our hands are commissioned through His blood to do His work and not the work of His enemies.

3. The Toe

The toe of the Christian speaks of our walk, and we are to understand that our path must be His path for our daily lives. We are to walk in this world according to His will and His way. When Jesus called His Apostles, He said, “Follow me.” That is our calling! Removing the toe of an enemy made it impossible for the enemy to run, march or fight effectively. Our feet, our daily walk, must be committed to God so that we are true followers of Jesus.

God has cleansed us through the blood of His Son and He has commissioned us to follow Him. Doing that will make us strange in the eyes of the world. So be it! We are strangers and pilgrims in this world. Are you watching or listening only to the things that God approves? Are you walking in ways and places that honor God? When we fail to use our minds, our hands, our feet and and entire lives for Him, we trample underfoot the blood Jesus shed to sprinkle and cleanse us for royal service!

III. THE SANCTIFICATION

Peter speaks of sanctification in the passage we are considering today. He uses a Greek word that speaks of being consecrated or set apart for specific duty. Most women have special china that they only use to serve guests on special occasions. God has made you like special china. You are set apart to serve Him and Him alone. You would not think of eating a meal from the Lord's Supper table here in the church. Why not? Is it not just a table made of wood? Yet, you would refrain from using it for some common purpose, and your decision is based on the fact that the Lord's Supper Table is dedicated to the purpose of serving teh Communion bread and cup to God's people. This table is set apart - consecrated - sanctified - for a special divine purpose. So are you! So am I! We are set apart for service to God in all things that we do. This does not apply only to our worship and work in the church but to every area of our daily lives.

Peter is a prime example of the task we face seeking to live as strangers in this world – strangers who are consecrated to God and His cause. Peter’s life was something of a paradox. He was impetuous, arrogant, self-centered, and temperamental. But after years of working on Him, Christ had turned him into a spiritual giant. Peter became a Genuine Christian, a Giving Christian and a Grace Christian. He is mentioned in New Testament more than any other biblical character. He is mentioned 210 times. Paul, another giant in the faith, is only mentioned 162 times in the Bible. All the other apostles combined are only mentioned 142 times. Peter is mentioned often because he was often in trouble, but he is also mentioned often because he continued to move toward sanctification. He was growing and gaining ground in his walk with God. He became more consecrated as he lived as a stranger in this world.

It is disturbing to see so many Christians who never grow. The weaknesses and flaws remain the same through all the years. In order to become that which God saved us to be, we must allow God to mold us and shape us into His image. You see, Christianity is not people trying to work something into us, nor us trying to work something up for God, rather it is God working something out through us by His grace and His Holy Spirit! He works from the inside out!!! Peter reminds all of us who are Christians that we must allow Jesus to keep working on us until He calls us home. Grace is in every chapter of 1 Peter, and that is because Peter knew his life was a work of God's continuing grace.

Read Ephesians 3:7-16 and you will note that Paul never considered himself to have attained all that God had called him to be and do. He pressed on. He goes on to say that as many of us as are mature should have this same mindset. Never give up on your spiritual growth. We are saved through the blood of Jesus, but sanctification requires each of us to allow God to work in so He can do what He desires to do through us!

IV. THE SCATTERING

Peter also states that we have been scattered about in this world as strangers. The Greek word speiro means seed. Accompanied by the Greek word dia it means to sow or scatter seed. Peter is telling us that God has scattered His seed – those of us who are believers – all over this world. Yes, the world sees us as strange seed, but we are God’s seed. Look at Acts 11:19; 8:1-4.

You are where you are in this world, at this time, according to God’s will. We have been sown in the fields where God intends for us to be. You are going through problems, hardships, trials and temptations, but God is working to use all of that to develop us and to use us as His seed to grow the gospel and the kingdom.

Romans 8:28 tells us that loving God and doing His will ensures that everything that is occurring in our lives will work for good. In other words, don’t decry your situation, see yourself as God’s ambassadors in a strange world. Some of Paul’s writings occurred when he was in prison. Had he not been in prison, he might well have never written those things God intended for us to receive. The prison was not a punishment. The prison experiences of Paul did not occur because God forgot Paul. The Lord allowed Paul to be in the jail cell so that the words found in the letters Paul wrote would be available to all Christians throughout the Church Age.  Your problem today may be God’s way of placing you right where you need to be as His seed scattered and planted for His purpose.

Yes, this is a strange world to us, and that is because we are strangers in it. Don’t expect the world to pat you on the back for loving Jesus. Many today are complaining about how the government is treating Christians. Come now, look at history. See those who were hunted down, imprisoned, beaten and killed because of their faith. We will never truly be God’s good seed unless our main goal is not popularity or comfort, but the desire to be God’s selected, sprinkled, sanctified, scattered seed in this fallen world.

Conclusion

This is our day! This is the time God has chosen to scatter us upon the hard ground of this world. You are God's seed! We are strangers, selected, sprinkled, sanctified, scattered by the commissioning work of God to this generation. Others lived in their generations, as hard as that might have been, but now you and I must live in this generation and honor our Lord. It is our privilege to live now. It is our blessing to be God's ambassadors here and now. Do not complain but recommit! Do not give up or give in but look up and walk out into the world with the power of the Spirit of God upon you! The Father Chose you, The Son Cleansed you, The Spirit Commissioned You. The entire Godhead is involved in this great moment in our lives. Fear not. Doubt not. Wait not. Quit not. Rise and walk for Him who died and rose for you!