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Not an Immigrant, Not a Tourist

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
November 19, 2020 9:00 am

Not an Immigrant, Not a Tourist

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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November 19, 2020 9:00 am

We may be physically separated from many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, but even under these conditions, 1 Peter speaks a message of unity, hope, and perseverance to our weary souls. 

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Where is your hope for the future? Is your hope in the assumption that this pandemic, well, it can't last forever and soon everything will get back to normal or that you got enough saved up or that your job is secure? Trials and pain expose where our hope is and if it really can endure. Welcome to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. I'm Molly Vidovitch. I think it's safe to say that throughout this Coronavirus pandemic, we've been living in a period of unique suffering and isolation unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. Today Pastor J.D. begins a powerful and timely teaching series from 1 Peter called Together We Endure.

Our prayer is that today and throughout this series that we'll find unity, hope, and perseverance for our weary souls. So grab your Bible and pen and let's jump right in. We're going to shift now to a study through the book of 1 Peter which is one of my favorites. Now, I know you ask, why 1 Peter at this time? Well, the apostle Peter wrote this letter to a church whose world had been turned upside down in ways dissimilar to how ours has but still they felt like everything had come apart.

In the opening greeting of this book, Peter says, he says, I'm writing to those who are chosen, to those living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. This was a group of believers who had been scattered all over the world through political and religious persecution. Everything in their lives was uncertain. Their communities had been shattered.

Their worlds were totally rocked. We haven't necessarily of course gone through persecution like that but many of us feel like we're living through a period of isolation and uncertainty like anything that we've experienced before. So how do we endure?

How do we even thrive during such a time? Well, that's the question of 1 Peter and that's why he wrote the letter. First, let me give you just a quick word about the author Peter. Most people when they first start to read the Bible, they develop a real affection for Peter because there's just something about him that we feel like we can relate to. He had a big mouth and he often said stupid things and he was not real churchy either which sometimes I find refreshing. The apostle Paul is sometimes kind of way up here. Peter's almost always way down here. Paul was like, I'm a Pharisee of the Pharisees.

I graduated with honor from the most prestigious school in the land. Peter was like, yeah, but I can tell you the difference between a carp and a bass. The point is Peter was just really down to earth and you're going to find his book that way also. It's gritty.

It's earthy. Verse 1, Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to those chosen living as exiles. There are two key words in there, chosen and exiles. Chosen means that we belong to God.

He is our true home now. Exiles, well that speaks to our current relationship with the world that we live in. Peter, of course, was writing to a group of people who literally had been exiled from their country, but Peter uses this as a metaphor for all Christians everywhere, not just that original audience.

All Christians are essentially exiles in the worlds that we live in. We're temporarily isolated from our true country and we're taking up residence in another. Now, when you're living in a country that you're not from, you can be one of three things to it.

First, you can be an immigrant. An immigrant is somebody who seeks to make the new country that they're living in their permanent home. They're not from there, but they want this new country they're dwelling in. They want to make that their new place of citizenship. And basically, that's what a lot of Christians do with the world. They might know up here that they are citizens of heaven, but they treat this world as if it's where they really want to live. And so, they leverage most of their resources to make a comfortable life here. They obsess about their reputation here. They stress about what they do or do not have here. Am I ever going to get married? Is my ship ever going to come in? Why is life so hard here?

There's so much to life I may never experience. And that's an immigrant. Option two would be a tourist. A tourist is the opposite of an immigrant. They don't want to live in this new country that they're in. They're just visiting.

They don't want to form any real connections to the place. They stay huddled in their groups while you're there. You speak your own language. You eat your own kind of food. You stay in Western hotels.

You complain when you can't find a Starbucks. If there's political or social problems going on in that society, they don't really concern you because you have no connection to that place. Well, that's also an attitude that some Christians have toward the world that we live in. They stay separated like tourists. They never really get involved. They feel no connection to the community around them or they don't take any ownership for its problems.

Well, that's also wrong. The third option is what Peter is talking about here in 1 Peter, exile. An exile is somebody whose home is somewhere else, and that's where they want to go back to. But for an undefined amount of time, they have to make their home in a new place. So they invest in this new community. They form relationships in that new community. They learn the culture. But they don't want to get too attached to the place where they are because they're not only from there, their home is somewhere else. And all the while, they're looking for the day, yearning for the day when they can go back to their true home. Christians who live as exiles are not focused on owning a lot here because their real home is somewhere else.

They're satisfied with just enough to get by because their real treasure is located somewhere else. Peter wants you to change your mentality toward the world around you. This world, he is telling these believers, is not your true home. So don't be obsessed with your experiences here, what you do or do not have.

And don't let it bother you that everybody around you is different. That's what you should expect if you're an exile. I mean, you belong to a different kingdom. You speak a different native language. You have a different set of values. You follow a different authority. Christians are supposed to seem strange to the world around them.

I mean, how could you not, right? You're living with a whole different set of values. You answer to a different authority. In every way, you're marching to the beat of a different drummer. Imagine you're watching a huge drum corps out at halftime of some football game when we used to be able to go to football games. And everybody in the whole corps has their eyes always focused on the one guy or the one woman on the platform. But you notice that one guy in the middle is paying no attention to the guy on the platform. You notice that he's got his headphones on and he's not watching the conductor call out the beats of the march.

He's listening to the latest song by Chance the Rapper on Foxy 107. So he's playing along with that beat. He's going to look odd there in that drum corps, not because he's out of sync or he lacks rhythm, but because he's tuned into something entirely different from everybody else. When you're really tuned into God, you're going to look odd to everybody, extremely odd. In fact, if you don't look odd, it's because your life is more in rhythm with the world than it is with God's word. Peter says, embrace your identity as an exile. Don't try to be an immigrant.

Don't try to act like you're from this world. Your kingdom is somewhere else. Now, here in this opening section, Peter shows us that the whole Trinity is involved in our salvation. If we got to be outcasts from everybody around us, he wants us to know the glorious majesty of the one whom we belong to. So he starts with God the Father. Verse three, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, because of his great mercy has given us new birth into a living hope to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Highlight there in your Bible that word mercy. The Father's mercy conceived salvation's plan. Sometimes people will think of God the Father as the God of judgment, ready to pour out his wrath. And Jesus, well, he's the nicer, the understanding son, the gentle God who jumped in the Father's way and was like, no, no, no, no, dad, let's extend grace.

That's wrong. It was the mercy of the Father that drew up salvation's plan. He executed that plan by the Son, the second member of the Trinity. Now, admittedly, the Trinity can be confusing. You got three separate persons in the Godhead, but just one God, not three different gods. One of the best ways for understanding this came from the apostle John, when he called Jesus, the word of the Father, the word, the word, when you hear my words, you are hearing me.

My words are an extension of me. Jesus was God purchasing salvation for us through his death on the cross. As we often say around the summit church, Jesus lived the life that we should have lived. And he died the death. We were condemned to die. Jesus was God dying on a cross. He didn't just die for us.

He died instead of us. And what does that salvation offer us, Peter asked? A living hope. See that word living hope? Living hope means a hope that is stronger than death, a hope that extends beyond death. And where is that hope found? Peter says in the resurrection.

In the resurrection, everything permanent that could destroy or defeat us was crushed. So let me ask you, where is your hope for the future? Is your hope in the assumption that this pandemic, well, it can't last forever and soon everything will get back to normal or that you got enough saved up or that your job is secure? Trials and pain expose where our hope is and if it really can endure.

For many of us, our hope is in some fixed reference point here, a hope that our circumstances will change. One day things will get better or maybe apart from the pandemic, you just say, well, I'm not happy now, but one day I'll be happy. One day I'll have a good job. One day I'll be married. One day my marriage will get better.

Maybe you feel undervalued. And so you think one day, one day people will recognize the value I bring. I'll get the recognition I deserve. One day I'll be free from this chronic pain and I'll be healed. For years, I'll tell you, I was sustained through times of discouragement by the thought of what I thought one day I would become. But here's the question, what if those things don't happen? What if you don't get the job? What if the marriage doesn't get better?

What if the pain doesn't go away? Do you have a living hope that death cannot touch? A refuge that the challenges of life cannot overcome, a shelter that the storms of life can't shake. Listen, if you need anything in your life to change in order for you to have peace or be happy, then you have not found the living hope that Peter is talking about. Living hope is a joy and a hope you have in whatever situation you're in. Peter says that in the resurrection, we have a living hope that consists of, verse four, an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God's power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials, so that the proven character of your faith, more valuable than gold, which though perishable, is refined by fire, may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. In these verses, Peter explains what the believer's hope actually is on three things. Number one, our hope is to know Christ, just knowing Him. Did you see in verse eight that Peter says the goal of our salvation, the hope that sustains us in trials, is just knowing God, loving Him, enjoying Him. God is the ultimate end, the ultimate goal of our salvation.

Let me ask you this question. Is God useful to you, or is God beautiful to you? Useful means that God is a helpful means to something else that you want, serving Him as a way, for example, of getting prosperity, or a good marriage, or successful kids, or maybe even streets of gold, or a mansion in heaven, or whatever.

Right? That's useful. Or is God beautiful? Which means that you find God an end in Himself.

You think that He's beautiful and worth knowing, and that is the goal of, that's why you're seeking God. An illustration I love to use here is the drama and theater class I took in college. I signed up for this class thinking that we were going to do some skits and learn improv or whatever. I probably should have read the catalog a little bit better, because it was essentially a class on the history of drama and the theater. We spent our entire semester learning about great plays. As a college junior, I was not interested in theater.

I thought it was a bunch of guys prancing about in tights on stage, dancing and singing their way through a story, when I just preferred to see the movie. I hated that class. But I studied hard, and I did well in it so that I could get a good grade, so I could graduate, hopefully with honors, so I could get a good job, so that I could make money.

All right? Fast forward 25 years later, I got the job. I'm making the money.

It may not be the lucrative profession, but I'm making the money. And guess what one of my wife and my favorite things to do is? Well, I'm not ashamed to say, we love to go to the theater, right? Deepak, to see a bunch of guys and ladies prancing about in tights on stage, dancing and singing their way through a story.

Oh, the irony, right? In college, theater was a means to an end. I studied theater only as a means to getting money. Now, the irony is I use that money to enjoy theater, at least I used to before we had to avoid crowds. But see, theater, that became a beautiful thing and an end all its own.

Theater used to be useful. Now it's beautiful. So that's the question. Is God useful to you, or is He beautiful? Do you seek God because you see God as a good means to something else, prosperity, family, heaven, or do you see God as an end in Himself?

You see, the trials of life have a way of showing you the beauty and the value that God has in Himself. That's the first goal is to know Christ. The second goal is to be like Christ. These verses talk about God refining us and purifying us to achieve the goal of our faith. Verse nine, which he says is the salvation of our souls. Peter in these verses alludes to all three dimensions of our salvation.

Make sure you understand the different ones. Think of them as the three P's of salvation. In verse three, he says we are freed from the penalty of sin.

In theological terms, this is called justification, and it's something that happened in the past. You were born again, he says in verse three. When you embrace Christ as your Savior, you received all at once the forgiveness of all your sins.

You were given a perfect record. You were given the righteousness of Christ, and you stand blameless in His sight. That is justification, and it was given to you when you received Christ. In verses four and five, Peter talks about the second P of sin. We are freed from the presence of sin. In theological terms, this is called glorification, and it's something that happens in the future.

It's something Peter says in verse five that will be revealed later. We will have a perfect, pure heart. We'll love the right things. We'll no longer struggle with pride and hatred and rebellion and weakness and deceit and jealousy. We'll be like Jesus.

I can't wait for that. Let me ask, is that part of your hope? Many Christians talk a lot about what we are saved from, the penalty of sin or hell, but not as much what we're saved for, which is Christ's likeness. You can even hear that sometimes in the way we phrase the salvation question. If you had died tonight, do you know for sure you'd spend eternity in heaven?

That's a great question, but equally important is this. If you get up tomorrow morning, are you going to grow a little bit more that day to be like Jesus? So you've got the first P of our salvation, freedom from the penalty of sin, the second P, free from the presence of sin, and then you have the third P of salvation, and that is we're freed from the power of sin. In theological terms, this is called sanctification, and it happens right now in the present as God grows you more into Christ's likeness day by day. Peter says that all three of these are part of your salvation, justification, glorification, and sanctification, and all of them are activated, he says, by faith, which means believing that Jesus has done it all for you on the cross and will do it all in you and through you in the resurrection. You rest in his power and you let him do the work and you become Christ-like, which leads us now to the last dimension of our hope.

The first one was to know Christ, second one was to be like Christ, the third part of our hope, Peter says, is to be with Christ. In verse 4, he points us to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. Imperishable means it cannot be destroyed, undefiled means it will never spoil, unfading means it will last forever and never get boring, kept in heaven for you means that nobody can ever take it away.

It's an inheritance that's preserved from disease and corruption and protected from poverty and injustice. My kids and I over lockdown have been watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I felt like it was time in their life for them to experience that. Samwise Gamgee, which is one of the most popular characters in there, has this moment where he talks about looking forward to a time where every sad thing becomes untrue.

That was J.R.R. Tolkien's way of talking about this imperishable inheritance, a time in eternity where all sad things come untrue, where we are reunited with lost family, where disease is banished, where relationships are finally and fully healed. There's no more pain, there's no more crying, and God wipes away every tear. That's your true hope, Christian, to know Christ, to be like Christ, to be with Christ, and see, when that becomes your hope, that changes your perspective on trials now. Trials may be painful, they always are, but trials help purify your heart for the best part of your salvation, knowing Christ, being like Christ, and being with Christ. Trials loosen your grip on this world and force you to press into Him and find Him as your true home. Peter compares these trials in verse 7 to the fire that purifies gold.

The intense heat makes the impurities melt away, leaving only the pure gold. That's what God does in your heart through trials. The crumbling of the business makes you reorient your priorities.

Has that happened to you? The crumbling of your marriage shatters your self-centeredness and that sense of self-sufficiency and that you can do anything. The pain in your body makes you realize how fragile life is and teaches you to value those things that really matter. Trials are God's way of purifying you and preparing you for heaven before He takes you there, before He puts us into heaven. He puts heaven into us.

That is the hope we have during trials. Well, in the final verses here, Peter turns to the Spirit's role in salvation. Verse 10, concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preach the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.

Angels long to catch a glimpse of these things. The Father planned our salvation. The second member of the Trinity, Jesus, accomplished it. The third member of the Trinity, the Spirit, brings it to us. The Spirit first did that, Peter said, by revealing salvation to the prophets and the Bible writers. Moses and David and Isaiah wrote the words but, verse 11, Peter says the Spirit was the one speaking within them. The words of the Bible are the words of the Holy Spirit.

But there's more. Verse 12, Peter says the Holy Spirit then brought those words to you. Words on a page alone could not save us because truth has to be revealed to our blind and our dead hearts.

Otherwise, we couldn't really grasp them. Imagine if you were born blind and people were trying to describe a sunset to you but you've never even seen color but then suddenly your eyes are open and you see the full spectrum of color and now you can see the sunset. That's what the Holy Spirit does. He takes the concepts that you've heard about it and he makes them real. He makes the beauty of God burst alive in your heart in a way that makes you yearn for him. The process of the Spirit getting the words in the Bible was called inspiration.

The process of making them understandable to you is called illumination. Peter calls this the new birth. That's the Spirit's role in our salvation.

Now finally, the last little thing that you should notice here is a little phrase Peter throws in almost like an addendum. Angels long to catch a glimpse of these things. These gospel truths are so amazing that the angels long to to get a look at them. What an amazing thought. Angels are jealous of what we get to experience. Angels, of course, understand the truth about the gospel but they never experienced it, never tasted of its beauties for themselves.

I mean, think about that. How do you make an angel jealous? Think of all the angels see. They were there at creation. They were there at the Red Sea. They were there when God made Balaam's donkey talk.

They saw God create the things. They get to walk on streets of gold yet they feel jealous and they long to look more into what you and I get to experience when we feel the love and the truth of the gospel. Peter wants to strengthen you as an exile by saturating you in living hope and how does he do that? By pulling you in to get a closer look at the gospel. In the gospel that the angels are envious of are all the resources for the Christian life. The gospel, we say, is like a well. The best water in the well is not found by widening the circumference of the well and learning all kinds of theological facts.

The best water is found by going deeper into that well. Going deep into the living hope and the resurrection of Christ will do two things for you. It'll give you, number one, greater clarity in life because it shows you that your earthly life is temporary but your heavenly citizenship is eternal. Jesus lived to the fullest because he knew he would die but he also lived to the fullest because he knew he would resurrect. One of the things God is doing in this extraordinary time is using the fear of death to wake us up to what is truly life.

It's like our friend, Pastor Brian Loretz, often says, you learn a lot more at a funeral than you do at a party. So learn from this moment that we're in and let it clarify your life. Second thing that going deep in your living hope will give to you is greater comfort in trials. These trials hurt but from the perspective of eternity, are they that big of a deal?

I'm not saying our trials aren't real or I'm not saying they don't hurt badly now. I'm not trying to minimize your pain but from the perspective of eternity where all the sad things come untrue, can you see that anything we experience on earth is only light and momentary? Now one of my favorite illustrations on this comes from John Wesley and he talked about if you suddenly found out that a rich uncle you didn't even know that you had died and left you an immense fortune and they tell you about it and you just got to pick it up at the bank and as you're driving out to the bank and your horse and buggy, one of the wheels falls off the buggy, do you hop out there and start cursing your luck and shaking your fist at the heavens?

No, I mean if you're a half mile from the bank and you just leave the buggy behind, you skip the rest of the way to the bank because you're so overjoyed at the inheritance that you have. And John Wesley said that's what the believer's hope is like, is that the misfortunes of the world, they seem to lose their sting because of this imperishable unfading hope that we have in the resurrection of Christ. Turn your eyes to Jesus and declare that He is your everlasting God.

These trials hurt but from the perspective of eternity, they are light and momentary. If you'd like to listen to this message from J.D. Greer on Summit Life again, you can find the full sermon online at jdgreer.com. We have a wonderful offer for you today. You can be one of the first to get Pastor J.D. 's newest book titled Searching for Christmas. Everything we need to walk through times like we face this year with hope and peace, everything we're looking for in this life can be found by understanding the first Christmas and discovering anew what it really means for us today. We'd love to get you not just one copy of this book but a second copy for you to give away as a gift. So when you donate $25 or more to this ministry, we'll send you two copies of Searching for Christmas as our way of saying thanks for your generous support. Give us a call at 866-335-5220 and remember to ask for the book by Pastor J.D.

titled Searching for Christmas. That number again is 866-335-5220. Now before we close, let me remind you that if you aren't yet signed up for our email list, you'll want to go online and do that today. It's the best way to stay up to date with Pastor J.D. 's latest blog posts, and we'll make sure that you never miss a new resource or series.

It's quick and easy to sign up at jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vidovich inviting you to join us again tomorrow as Pastor J.D. shares another message from First Peter.

Even under our conditions of being physically separated from our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can still have hope and unity. Join us Friday for Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-15 18:01:13 / 2023-08-15 18:12:23 / 11

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