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An Inheritance Incorruptible

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:22, John 3:16, Ezekiel 33:11
Date: 04/08/2017  Lesson: 2
"How can we learn to be more loving? What choices must we make in order to be able to manifest the kind of love that comes from a “pure heart”?"
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Jolyne: Welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour. It is by no accident that you have joined us from across the country and around the world to study God's word together. What an exciting time we are living in. Jesus is about to come, and we just keep studying together, singing together, praying together, and soon we will see Him together in those clouds. I am so looking forward to that day. There's a little book by Joe Crews entitled "Is It Easier To Be Saved or Be Lost?". That's a great question. You can order it by calling into Amazing Facts at 866-788-3966, or 866-Study More, and ask for offer 124. It's free to you in The United States of America. All you have to do is ask. Same with salvation. Amen?

Rejoice, the Lord is King. We have every reason to rejoice, because He is king and He is coming to get us. We're going to sing the first, the second, and the last verse of hymn 221.

(singing)

Let's pray. Our Father in heaven, we do have so much to rejoice about, even though we live in a sin sick and dark world, you have promised us, in your word, that you are coming soon. And we look around and we know that is true, because your word is true. So, keep us rejoicing, Lord. Keep us winning souls for you. Give us your spirit in our hearts, that people see you living through us. And now as we study about Peter and his conversion and what he was all about, Lord, it gives us hope that you change hearts from the inside out, and you can make us mighty for you. So we praise these things, Lord, in your precious and holy name. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

At this time our study will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor.

Pastor Doug: Thank you so much, Jo and our musicians. Morning, friends. Want to welcome, also, those that are part of the extended class that are watching with us right now via satellite television, and others around the world through the internet. And we are excited about this, because we are just now into the second chapter in our new quarterly, dealing with First and Second Peter. It's called "Feed My Sheep". Of course that phrase "feed my sheep" is not found in First and Second Peter, it's actually found in the end of the gospel of John, where three times Jesus said, "Peter, if you love me, feed my sheep. Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep." He says it three times.

So, we have a memory verse for today's lesson. And the memory verse comes to us from First Peter 1:22, and I hope you'll say that along with me. Here in your lesson, it's got it in the NIV version, but it's First Peter 1:22. Are you ready? "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth, so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart."

So, part of this lesson, of course, is talking about love. It's also really a lesson about how to have hope amidst the trials. Now, last week we really just did an introduction talking about Peter. This week, we're going to get into the book. And what I'd like to do, since our mission today, I really like when things are done in clean segments, and our writer of the lesson, basically is dedicating our study today into the first chapter. That's real easy. So, you know what I really want to do, just to make sure we at least get thought the first chapter? Let's read it.

So, if you go to first Peter, the first letter of Peter chapter one, I'm going to read through those 25 verses there, then we're going to back up and we're going to take them apart piece by piece in our lesson study.

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ ... " And, by the way, I'm reading from the new King James Version here. "To the pilgrims of the dispersion, to Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. A lack according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father, and sanctification of the spirit for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to the abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, that does not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you. Who are kept by the power of God through faith, for salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you've been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tested by fire, might be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Whom having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Of this salvation, the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ, who was in them, was indicating when He testified beforehand the suffering of Christ and the glories that would follow. 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, but the holy spirit sent from heaven, things which the angels desire to look into. Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind and be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts as in your ignorance, but as He who has called you is holy, so also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written. 'Be holy, for I am holy.' 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 and in fear. Knowing that you are not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot, he indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. 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. Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another also fervently, with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and abides for ever. Because 'all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.' Now this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you."

Okay, we can go now. We did our study. I wanted to make sure and get thought that first chapter, so we now have kind of a broad context of what Peter is talking about. Alright, what book are we studying? First Peter. When you say "First Peter", what does that indicate? There's more than one. You've got a sequence here. How do we know that you can trust that this is the book called First Peter? Well, it's interesting, if you look in Second Peter, he actually references ... Look in Second Peter chapter three verse one, Second Peter he says, now this is the second letter I'm writing to you, beloved. He addresses to the same group of people. And where there's a second, there must be a what. See, when you have a first, there could be a thirtieth, but when you have a second, you know there is at least a first.

And so, this is, of course, the first letter that Peter wrote. And we're going to just go point by point now, through these verses. The first thing we really want to talk about is who is the letter written to? Who's he speaking to? The first thing he tells us there is Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to the pilgrims of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. Now, when it talks about the pilgrims, to those who are among the dispersed, you've probably heard the term before, to disperse. And there is a word , or the "diaspora", it's talking about a group who has been spread abroad.

For instance, you've got, let me look at the word's definitions for you, part one, the scattering of the Jews to countries outside of Palestine, after the Babylonian Captivity, was called the diaspora. And then you have, any group migration or flight from a country or region, dispersed outside its traditional homeland. I remember, two different times now, this last year we were in Puerto Rico. Do you know there are more Puerto Ricans that live in America than in Puerto Rico? There are more Puerto Ricans dispersed. The economy in Puerto Rico is very poor right now. I forget, 16 billion dollars in debt or something. And so lot of people looking for a better life have left, and now there are more Puerto Ricans not in Puerto Rico.

Jamaica. Jamaica has a great dispersion. The Philippines. Almost everywhere I go in the world I find Filipinos. When I went to ... go to Europe and England, they've got a Filipino church. Germany, Filipino church. In the middle east, several Filipino churches, because they often go and they take some of the regular jobs there. And so, when we did evangelism in the Philippines, we really were doing global evangelism, because they then streamed it to their friends all over the world that are dispersed. And that's where you also get the term "dispersed as in seeds".

Now, in a second, I'm going to ask somebody to read James 1:1. Who's going to have that? We'll get you ready for that, Joe. But before we get to it, I'm going to read Ephesians 1:1. "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus, faithful in Christ Jesus." Now, Peter also identifies himself as "Peter an Apostle". How many apostles were there? 12. But, when Paul wrote this, did Paul call himself an apostle? How many does that make? But, when Paul wrote this, James had been killed. So how many does that make?

We wonder if they tried to maintain the number 12. Others have argued that Apollos became referred to as an apostle. What was the criteria to be an apostle in the early days? You needed to be somebody, technically, typically, who actually heard personally from Jesus. Now how does Paul qualify? Did Paul personally get a message from Jesus? Yeah. And so the writings of the apostles had higher credibility, and that's why Paul always says an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, Jesus talked to me, He called me personally to be an apostle. But some have also said that even Apollos, who was sort of a second generation apostle, but the most important thing is that Peter, he walked with Jesus. He had first hand experience. He, as John says, we leaned on His breasts. He broke bread and handed it to us, spiritually and literally. So we know who wrote it. And now, who is he writing to? Go ahead, read ... We told you he's writing to diaspora, but what does that mean? Read James 1:1 for us, Joe.

Joe: Okay. James 1:1. "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings."

Pastor Doug: Alright, so, Peter's writing to the dispersed, to the pilgrims. And then James is also saying he's writing to the 12 tribes. Most scholars believe that peter is writing to these churches there in Asia Minor, that have synagogues in them where there are Jews. Now, I just want you to notice something. I'm going to read Galatians chapter two verse seven. "But on the contrary, when they saw that the Gospel for the uncircumcised ... ", the Greek, the Gentiles, "had been committed to me ... ", Paul says, "as the Gospel for the circumcised ... ", the Jews, "was to Peter, for He worked effectively through Peter, for the apostleship to the circumcised, he also worked effectively in me towards the Gentiles."

Now what is Paul saying here? Is Paul saying that I really became a specialist to the Gentiles? Peter was a specialist in preaching the gospel to the Jews. Sort of what he's saying. But was that exclusive? When Paul first entered a town, where was the first place he started preaching? He'd go to the synagogue. And if they listened, great. In , they were noble, they studied the scriptures, the people in the synagogue. Some were not so nobles, and Paul said you prove yourselves unworthy of the word of God, lo we turn to the Gentiles. He'd go to a community out of respect for the Jews, that already had the word, he'd start with them. Because they already had the foundation. And then he would go next, and talk to the Gentiles. And so, in the same way Paul, he would preach to Gentiles and Jews. Peter would do both as well.

But Peter had a special ministry to the Jews up there in Asia Minor. Let me read some more for you from Galatians. Go to Galatians chapter two verse 11, still talking about who the book was written to. "But when Cephas ... " Who was Cephas? Does some of you, in your translation, does it say Peter? "But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was condemned. He should be condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles." Now, who was Peter with? The Gentiles. "But when they came from James ... " That's the Jews from Jerusalem, being sent by the brother of Jesus named James, he was sort of the chairman of the board down there in Jerusalem. "But when they came from James, he drew back." He said whoa whoa whoa, what will they think, and there's a little bit of prejudice going on there, and so they started saying well, I can hang out with the Gentiles, but when the Jews come, I'm going to act like the Gentiles aren't clean.

Remember when Peter first went to the house of Cornelius, and he said I just need to let you guys know, it's not lawful for me, being a Jew, to come into the house of a Gentile, but God has told me not to call any man unclean. That vision Peter had of a sheep that came down and had the unclean animals in it, and he, explaining that vision, he said God has told me not to call any man unclean. But he knew that some of the Jews still struggled with that, and so when the delegation came from Jerusalem, Peter wouldn't hang out with the Gentiles then, and Paul condemned them for that. He said you're being a hypocrite, you're acting one way when the Jews aren't around, you're acting another way, and you know what Jesus says about hypocrisy.

So, the reason I went through all of that, is to tell you that Peter and Paul both ministered to Jews and Gentiles. The letter of First Peter is probably written principally to the diaspora. The Jews had been dispersed, not only through the Babylonian Captivity, but also through the Romans and the Greeks, but not exclusively. Now that verse that Joe just read in James, James is writing to the 12 tribes. When James wrote, how many tribes were there? What happened to 10 of the tribes way back before Jesus was born, back after the time of Hezekiah? The Babylonians conquered Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites. The Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom with 10 tribes. You're talking 500 years before Jesus, long time ago.

The Babylonian captives came back. There was no time, when the Syrian captors were told you're free to come back. They basically inter-married, and a lot of them kind of lost their distinct identities. Some of them tried to stay in small groups, but they inter-married with each other. There were no clear, defined lines of 10 tribes by the time of Jesus. The people from Issachar inter-married with the Syrians, and they inter-married with other tribes from Menasa and Zebulin and ... So the idea that there were 12 distinct tribes, so why does James say 12 tribes?

When you become a Christian, you become a Jew. That's biblical. If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed and heir, as according to the promise. Paul said we, Gentiles, are grafted into the stalk of Israel. And so, both Paul and James and Peter, when they started talking and writing letters, they always figured that the Christians were sort of being adopted into the family. Isn't that right? And so, don't take these terms too seriously. I think the apostles and James, when he says I'm writing to the 12 tribes, and I'm writing to those that are dispersed, are somewhat speaking in metaphorical terms saying ...

What happened in Acts chapter eight? When Steven was stoned it says, "A great persecution arose and the believers were scattered everywhere." They looked upon what was happening through the persecution of the Jews and the Romans, as a second dispersion. They were scattered everywhere, Jew and Gentile. The Christians were scattered everywhere. They saw themselves as being scattered like the early Jews had been scattered, and sometimes they referred back to that, kind of as a metaphor. Alright, that was a long answer, sorry.

Alright, one more. I'll give you one more verse. John 7:35, when Jesus says, "Where I go, you can't come. The Jews answered and said to themselves where does he intend to go that we all not find him? Does he intend to go to the dispersion among the Greeks or the Gentiles? And teach the Greeks?" And they said that to Jesus, they didn't know yeah, he was going to go to them through his apostles, and teach the Gentiles. So that did actually happen.

Alright, now the next second ... Oh wait, let me tell you one more thing, just so you have the picture here. Acts chapter two, still I'm gonna finish off who he's writing two. Act chapter two verse five, this is a chapter about Pentecost. When Pentecost happens it says, "Now that we're dwelling in Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven ... " And you go to verse eight. "How is it then ... " When the holy spirit was poured out they said, "How is it then we hear each man in his own language where, when we were born, Parithians, Medes, Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and parts of Libya, adjoining Cyrene, visitors to Rome, Jews, Proselytes, Cretians, and Arabs. Sixteen different language groups are mentioned, and that's not all of them.

What does it say in Act chapter two? "There were Jews, devout men, who were dwelling in every nation under heaven." The Jews really had been scattered all the way to Spain. They, you've heard me say before, my mother's maiden name, she was Jewish, was Tarshish. Remember where Jonah fled? That was the farthest most port in the Phoenician empire, it was off the coast of Spain before you sailed off into the Atlantic. In America, we say Timbuktu. Where you going? Oh, I've been to Ti- That was the farthest place a Marine could be stationed many years ago, was actually in Africa, a place called Timbuktu. So, it became a metaphor for the ends of the Earth. Tarshish was the ends of the Earth.

And so, they had Jews settlements all the way in Tarsish, all the way down in Egypt, in Alexandria, over towards India, but they would come to Jerusalem to worship. What kind of Jews came? The devout ones, who were coming to keep the feasts according to the commandments of God. And so, I'm saying that because these were the people that God filled with the holy spirit at Pentecost, they went back preaching about Jesus, these were the same people, now, that Peter and Paul would go to, the devout Jews, who had accepted Jesus. This is who the letter's being written to. But I'm sure there were Gentiles sprinkled in among them. Okay? We ready to go on?

Now, verse two. Didn't get very far did we? Verse two, "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." How many of you spotted something interesting in that verse? What was it, Vicky? Foreknowledge. Are there three primary characters mentioned in that verse? God is made up of what three persons? Father, son, and spirit. Now, look at that verse again. God, Father, spirit, Jesus Christ, there you have all three of them, right there. And so, you'll find them mentioned, all three again, later in the chapter, this first chapter, if you didn't spot it.

Now, someone's going to read for me First Timothy two, three, and four. You'll have that, Susan, in just a minute. Alright, I'm going to read another verse first. Is Peter saying ... My mic dropped off, sorry. When Peter says elect according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father, does foreknowledge mean that God had decided ahead of time who is going to be saved and who is going to be lost? Or is it simply saying he knows? But does everybody still have a choice? Look at Second Peter 3:9. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise." Some men count slackness. "But he's long suffering to us who are not willing that any should perish, but that all ... " How many does God want to come to repentance? All. How many does God want to perish? None. Will some perish?

So, this is this great debate in the Christian world. And there are good Christians on both sides of this debate. But it's the one about pre-destination, once saved, always saved. And you've got Baptists, many Baptists that may believe in once you're saved you can't be lost, and then there are what they call Free Will Baptists, that don't believe that. Or they believe a more Methodist version of it. Then of course, Methodists believe like we do, that you have free will, and that, while God knows who's going to be saved, God is not saying well, I'm just going to allow some to be saved, because that goes against this verse that says He's not willing that any should perish.

The other thing that Calvin taught is that the sacrifice of Jesus was not for everybody, that Jesus only suffered for the sins of those who would be saved, called the Elect. But the Bible's pretty clear that he suffered for all. And he died for all. And doesn't it say whosoever will, whosever is willing, even in John 3:16, whosoever believes in him. Go ahead, read your verse in First Timothy, Susan.

Susan: First Timothy two, three, and four. "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior, who desires all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Pastor Doug: So, God wants all men to be saved. He's not willing that any should perish. And so, this idea that the Lord has an elect group, and what that elect group means, is that well, we've chosen some to be saved, whether you like it or not, we're going to save you. And once you are saved, you can't be lost. I guess that could be looked at as a whole different issue. Let me read some more verses on that. Go to Ezekiel, and this is in your lesson, Ezekiel 33:11. Ezekiel's got some really clear statements about salvation and God's will. "Say to them, as I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live." He has no pleasure. "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will you die our house of Israel." Do we have a choice? Why would God plead like that for us to make a choice, if we don't have a choice? Obviously, we have a choice. Why would Joshua say choose thee, this day, who you will serve, but as for me and my house, we're going to serve the Lord. It's implied we are choosing to serve the Lord.

You can't have love without choice. Forced love is sometimes called rape. God does not force us to love Him. It stops being love. God makes all His creatures, including his angels, free. That's why Lucifer and the third chose not to love God, and to trust God. They made a different choice. I remember having a long conversation with somebody this week. "Well, couldn't God have chosen people that He knew would choose Him freely? So he wouldn't have all this problem with sin?" The very fact that God made some creatures that chose not to love Him, is proof that we really are free. And so, it's a very important subject.

Let me give you another verse on this pre-destination issue. Romans 6:6, "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin." God, when we come to Him, He is willing to crucify the old nature, but we must come to him and ask him for that. So, when he is writing, he's writing to the elect. I've heard it put this way, many are called, few are chosen. Some say well, see, some are chosen. Many are called. Many, whosoever will, is called. The chosen are the ones who respond and accept that call. God calls you, if you accept His call, you're elected. You are the elect who respond to the call. See, that's all that means.

It's so important, I think, to understand that, because the pre-destination ... If God has already pre-decided who's going to be saved and who's going to be lost, why do mission work? Why go? He's already decided they're going to be saved whether we go or not, He's going to save them. Now, it is a difficult subject, because you need to concede, are there some people that God saves like Paul, without a missionary, God just slaps Paul down and says, here I am, gets his attention, God goes to him directly. Doesn't the Lord sometimes do it through angels, even though a missionary might not be there? But that is the rare exception. Most of the time, God does what He did with Phillip, where he said Phillip, I've got someone I want you to preach to. I need you to go tell them. I could tell them, or I can have an angel tell them, but my chosen method of saving the lost is for you to present the gospel, for you to work with, for you to have the privilege of seeing someone saved, and many will be lost, because nobody told them.

It is true. It makes a difference whether we go or not. God wants them saved, but He ... Jesus said to Isaiah, whom should I send, who will go? And he said, here am I, send me. And so God is waiting for us to volunteer freely and the lost must hear the message and choose freely. Elected means we've responded to that call.

Alright, look at some of the key themes. Now we're going to go to First Peter chapter one, and read verses three through eight. "Blessed be God, the 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." Did Peter see him rise? He appeared to him that day and spoke to him. "From the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that does not fade away." What kind of inheritance has God got for us? Notice the words here, "incorruptible, undefiled", our bodies get old, they corrupt, "that does not fade away", it's never going to fade, "reserved in heaven", devil can't take it from you, "who are kept by the power of God". Does God promise to keep us? "Through faith", what keeps us? "We're kept through faith ... " What are we kept for? "For salvation, ready to be revealed in this last time." Now why does Peter say last time?

Well, when you're living in ... He probably wrote that maybe 40 A.D., you're living in the future. There was no 2017 back then. They saw that they had been living after 4,000 years, the Bible history, and they saw we are in the last days. They saw that all the prophecies about the coming messiah pointed to their day, and since they were in the future, they saw them in the last days. Now, right now we believe we're in the last days. But what if the world goes 12,000 more years? Are we in the last days? I think we are in the last days.

So, you understand why Peter's saying here we are, in these present times, is really what he's saying, that it's been revealed to us. "In this you greatly rejoice, no now, for a little while, if need be, you've been grieved by various trials." Now, when Peter wrote that believers were going through some persecution, both from the Jews that did not accept Jesus, and even the Roman government joined in in some cases, "that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tested by fire, may be found to praise and honor in glory the revelations of Jesus Christ." Now, someone's going to read for me, in John 20:29, in just a moment here. Notice what Peter said. He said your faith is being tested by fire. How do you purify gold? It's through fire. Peter says don't be amazed that the fiery trials that try you, as though some strange thing has happened.

Who can you think of that went through a trial by fire, so to speak of, in the Bible? Job did. Someone ... I was waiting. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was a metaphor for a trial by fire, or did they really go through the fire? But did it end up working out for a blessing? I read a great book by my friend Marvin Moore, written years ago. I wish they'd reprint it. It's called "Witnessing Through Trials". And he takes a bunch of stories from history, of people who went through great trials, and God typically allows us to be the best witnesses, not because he saves us from trouble, but through trouble.

The children of Israel. Couldn't God just have ... Moses could have gone to Pharaoh and said let me people go, and the Pharaoh could have gone okay. Would you have the great Exodus story if the Pharaoh had said sure, goodbye? He didn't do that, but because there was a trial there, you had the power of God was manifested, and they did go through a hard time, but it became a great deliverance.

The story of Joseph is especially great, because of the trial he went through. The story of Job, the trial he went through. The wrestlings of Jacob, you can go through all these great stories in the Bible, and you're going to see there was a trial involved. But, God's people are purified, not because he saves us from trial, but through trial. The Bible says the Lord is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle. How do you get out wrinkles? A cold iron? I've tried it, it doesn't work. I need a hot iron. And it's the fiery trials.

Alright, go ahead, read for us John 20:29.

Speaker 5: John 20:29. "Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those we have not seen, and yet have believed."

Pastor Doug: Now, I'm reading that verse, because First Peter 1:8 says, "In whom, having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, but believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory." Is it possible to fall in love with somebody you haven't seen? Yeah, the internet dating. I was waiting for someone to say that. In the old days, I've got some friends that they began to correspond with somebody, and they actually did it through snail mail, the old put a stamp on it and lipstick. I'm not recommending that, but you know what I mean. They used to kiss it. My mother used to send me letters when I was at summer camp and she'd kiss it with a big old red lipstick thing. And soldiers wives would often to that, they'd seal it with a kiss.

But, I know people who have courted through the mail, and they have never met people, and they fell in love. They often did it for months, sometimes they were in another ... And they got to know people. Boy, they wrote just wonderful letters. I remember when Karen and I were dating, we were separated for a while, because I was in Pohnpei, in the south Pacific. I mean it is out in the middle of nowhere in the south Pacific. And letters took weeks to get back to the US from Pohnpei, Micronesia. Any of you been to ... You got to take, they call it the Greyhound of the Pacific, you take stops at all these little islands before you get there, it is a long ride.

But I met somebody on the island that had a HAM radio, and so I could communicate with Karen through HAM radio, but they had to operate the radio, and she needed to find a HAM operator in the US. And so, she would go meet with a HAM operator, and I would go to the HAM operator in Pohnpei, and our conversations went something like this. "Hello, Karen, how are you? Over." And this guy would be clicking his switch, and he'd click off. And his friend, he'd click it on, she'd say, "I'm fine, Doug. How are you? Over." "I love you, dear. Over." "I love you too. Over." And everybody's listening to our conversation. That was awful. Letters were much better. I actually proposed to her in a letter and I said by the time you get this letter, I was really arrogant. I said by the time you get this letter, I will have proposed, and you will have accepted. Isn't that terrible? But I knew the letter was coming from Micronesia before I got back. It would come, rather, after I actually got back. But, most of the time, when a guy finally proposed, you've already talked things through pretty well, and you have a pretty good sense. No one likes rejection.

Anyway, you got a good read on it before you go that far. Anyway, can we fall in love with the Lord? Has He written us a letter? Yeah. Who, having not seen, we love. And we know Jesus, because we talk to him every day through prayer. And he speaks to us through His word. And so there's this love relationship that He talks about. You can read in Second Corinthians 4:18. It says, "While we do not look at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are not seen are eternal." And God is a spirit, and we may not see Him. Jesus said, "Blessed are those that believe without seeing." And you read in Second Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." God's people are living lives of faith. We don't necessarily see, but we live by faith, not by sight.

And then Peter says in verse nine, "Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls." What is the whole purpose for Christian faith? Why do we believe what we believe? It's all the salvation of our souls. That means your life, all that you are, being saved. And you can read in Romans chapter six verse 22, "But now having been set free from sin, and becoming slaves to God, you have fruit to holiness, and this end to everlasting life." If you read, also now, verse 10 of First Peter, I'm kind of plowing through one verse at a time. "Of this salvation of our souls ... ", that we just read. "Of this salvation, the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesized of the grace that would come to you."

Now, do you find Jesus in the Old Testament? One of my favorite studies is all of the types and the stories about Christ that you find in the Old Testament. And Peter, when Peter writes, was the New Testament written yet? They had some, probably the gospel of Mark was written, some of it was written, but I don't know if it was all in book form per se. Peter, when he would go, and he'd preach in these churches in Asia Minor, he would open the Old Testament and preach to them about Jesus. And Peter's basically saying, all that they wrote about and searched for is in this book. It's in the Bible, who prophesised of the grace that would come to you. You are the one who is living and experiencing all that they prophesized about.

Go, for example, to Hebrews chapter 11 verse 13, speaking about all the faithful. Hebrews 11 talks about all the faithful. It says, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, they looked into the distant future. And they were assured of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the Earth." Were people in the Old Testament saved by works and people in the New Testament were saved by faith? Do you think yes, Mike? I respectfully disagree. Will anyone get to heaven and say I'm here because of my good works? No.

The people in the Old Testament, and we hear the old covenant, and we say that's the law written on stones, but where do you first find the new covenant? In the New Testament or in the Old Testament? You find it in Jeremiah chapter 33. Is anyone saved under the old covenant? Well, the old covenant is first given to Moses. Abraham is before Moses. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. Was Abraham saved, was anyone saved, by works, is really where I'm going. No. If anyone's saved, is it by works or by faith? In the Old Testament, were they saved by works or by faith? Faith and what? They are saved by faith and the coming messiah. He hadn't come yet. When they sacrificed lambs, did they really believe lambs were saving their sin? Saving them from sin? Yeah, it says lambs and offerings, you did not desire, a body you prepared. What is it, in the book Michael, what shall I give for the sin of my soul? Shall it be a thousand burned offerings? God said no. I don't desire that.

All of that pointed to what? Pointed at ... Did they know that back then? That's what Peter is saying. He's saying of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully in prophecy than Hebrews, all these died in faith, having not received the promise, but having seen them afar off. What promise? The promised seed. Remember the promise that God gave to Adam and Eve in the garden, that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent's head. They looked for the messiah that would come, the seed of the woman. And they all saw the far off. They were saved, very simply, they were saved in the Old Testament by faith, looking forward to the cross. We are saved now by faith looking back to the cross. But everybody is saved by faith. Peter is saying what they all look forward to, you can now look back on. They were saved by faith looking forward to it, you know how see the reality of it. I look back.

As a matter of fact, here's another verse, Jesus said, John 8:56, speaking to the Jews, "Your father, Abraham, rejoiced to see my day. And he saw it." Jesus said, "Abraham saw my day." When did Abraham see Christ's day? When do you think Abraham got the clearest picture of the sacrifice of God's beloved son? When he went up on the mountain and he offered his son, and God said Abraham, because you have not withheld your son ... I think god gave Abraham and epiphany that day, that you have lived out what I am going to do. I'm going to give my son. And Abraham said to Isaac, God will provide himself a sacrifice, Abraham saw, that day. And this is what Jesus was referring to.

So, moving on in Peter, go to verse 11 and 12, "Searching 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. To them it was revealed, not to themselves, but to those who were ministering to 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 the angels desire look in." Peter's saying the holy spirit, sent from heaven, to people who preach the gospel, why does God give the spirit? Jesus said wait in Jerusalem and I'll send my spirit, that you might be my witnesses. Why did God send the holy spirit? So they could preach to you these things. If you're willing to be witness, if you're willing to have Christ share through you, he will especially give you the spirit to do that.

Even while I stand up here teaching to you, I pray the holy spirit will bring things to my mind and my remembrance, because it's not about me, it's about God. And you want the spirit of God to reveal those things. Ephesians 3:10, "To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church, to the principalities and the powers in heavenly places ... " Principalities and powers? When does Paul talk about principalities and powers later on in Ephesians? "We don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but we wrestle against ... " Principalities ... What's he talking about? There he's talking about the devil. In Ephesians chapter three verse 10, he's talking about good angels. Did you catch what Peter said? "The gospel, sent from heaven, things which angels desire to look into." Are angels interested in the gospel? Did angels come down and announce the birth of Christ? Did angels come down and announce the resurrection of Christ? Did angels come down and talk to the disciples during the ascension of Christ to heaven? Are angels interested in what's happening down here?

Peter says, God's giving you the spirit, and you're proclaiming the mysteries of salvation that the angels desire to look into. These principalities and powers, heaven is interested in what's happening here. A good part of investigative judgment that takes place in the last days, is because it's not for God to know anything. God knows everything. God is telling angels, you see all those crazy people down there, I'm going to save some of them, I'm going to let them come back to heaven. And the angels are thinking Lord, you remember what Lucifer did, you sure that's a good idea? And God's saying look, I'll show yeah, they've really been changed.

God knows everything. Nothing's so God can find out anything. Isn't that right? Angels are interested in what's happening down here. You know why? We're going to be their neighbors. And they want to know, they got the victory? They going to be good up here? They're not gonna start what Lucifer did are they? I mean, if you were an angel, wouldn't you be a little concerned about what's happening to the neighborhood? Are these people gonna move back in and start another rebellion? Angels want to know if the blood of Christ is washing them from their sins.

So then you go to one more verse of this, Daniel 8:13 talks about that judgment. "Then I heard one holy one, speaking in another holy one said to that certain holy one who was speaking. How long will be the vision?" You've got these pictures all through prophecy of angels talking back and forth about what's happening here on Earth. Alright, let's keep moving here. "Living the life of salvation." Now we're reading verses 13 through 16. Again, we're in First Peter one, 13 through 16. "Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind and be sober and rest." What does he mean when he says gird up the loins of your mind? You know what a loincloth is? That was biblical underwear. They'd just wrap themselves up. You probably seen people fishing in India, and they got their pretty simple ...

In Bible times, they had kind of a belt around their loins, and when you walked, typically they had a robe. It also could be their blanket at night. It kept them from being bit by mosquitoes and burnt by the sun. But when you were walking or working, you would tuck that into your belt around your loins, so that you wouldn't trip. You had no loose bath robe belts and extra garments hanging down, that were gonna trip you up. And so, Peter is saying, don't have loose doubts that are hanging, that you're tripping over all the time. Gird yourself up, so that you can run the race, and not be tripped up with doubts all the time. It's a mental picture that he as, the loins of your mind, gird it up. Be sober. Rest in your hope fully.

See, they were having doubts. Rest your hope fully upon the grace. They're going through trials saying, how come Jesus hasn't come yet? Rest your hope fully upon the grace it is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children. Don't lose faith right on the borders of the promised land, as Israel did one time. But as obedient children, not conforming yourself to the former lusts, as in your ignorance. When you are ignorance of these things, you kind of lived in a wicked way like the world, don't go back to that. But as He that has called you as holy, you also be holy. And all of your conduct, because it is written, be holy for I am holy. Now, is Peter making that up or is Peter quoting the Bible? Somebody look up for me, Luke 1:74. You gonna have that Mike?

Alright, I'm going to read Leviticus 11: 44. "For I am the Lord your God, you shall therefor consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy, for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the Earth. For I, the Lord, who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God, you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." He says it twice there. Be holy, I am holy. How does he want us to be holy? Well, how do we know how holy God is? God said, well, look, I'll come down and I'll give you an example. His name is Jesus. I will come down and live among you, and show you what it means to be like God. So when the Bible says "be Godly", what does that mean? Be like Jesus, right? Be Christ-like.

And so, what he's really saying, is we think oh man, God is so far, how can I be like God? Isn't that blasphemy to think I could be like God? He's saying be like Jesus, that's a Christian. That feels better saying it that way, doesn't it? He's calling us to holiness. Now, read for us, please, Luke 1:74 and 75.

Speaker 6: Luke 1:74 and 75. "To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life."

Pastor Doug: So, how consistently does he wants us to serve Him in holiness and righteousness? All our days. How can we serve Him in holiness and righteousness, being delivered from the hand of our enemy? Can the Lord deliver you from the captivity to the devil? He can. And, by the way, this is the prayer of Zechariah, when his mouth was opened after John the Baptist was born. But it's a prophetic statement, that we, being delivered from the ... Why did God deliver the children of Israel from Pharaoh? That they might be a holy nation. That they might serve him in holiness. Why does God save us from the devil? That we might be his holy representatives.

Peter's saying don't go back to your former ways. And then final section here. "Love one another." First Peter 1:22, "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth, through the spirit, in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart." Now, here's where Peter sounds like John. John is the apostle of love. He's always saying love is of God. How can you say you love God, you don't love each other? Love each other. Peter's saying love each other fervently, with a pure heart. Have a heartfelt love.

When Jesus asked Peter, at the resurrection three times, Peter do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? By the way, that's where you get the title for our study guide, "Feed My Sheep", is because three times Jesus said Peter do you love me. All three times Peter said, Lord, you know I love you. Jesus said feed my sheep. So, how do we show love? By loving each other, and one of the most loving things you can do is to share the truth with someone.

John 13:34, "A new commandment I give you, that you should love on another, as I have loved you." That's how you should love on another. That's pretty hard, to love each other the way Jesus loves us. And Jesus says, "Father, I pray that, as you love me and I love you, they'll love each other.", John chapter 17. Does it get any better than that? How could you possibly love people the way Jesus does? You can't without his spirit, but notice this, you can not not love people like God, if you have God's spirit. If you have God's spirit, you will love like God loves. So what's our greatest need? The holy spirit.

How do you know you've been converted? First John 3:4, "We know that we've passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that does not love his brother, abides in death." That's a pretty serious indictment, if you got hatred in your heart for somebody. It's easy to say I love people, as long as you don't mention anyone specifically. I do generally, I love people. I'm a people person. But there's a lot of individual people I don't love very much. Well, you're in that category of someone that doesn't love. So, he's talking about if the holy spirit can bring someone to your mind, that you have hatred in your heart for, then you're not passing the test, cause God is love. And He wants us to love our enemies.

So, that would cover everybody, wouldn't it? If you love your enemies, but I got this special enemy enemy. No, your enemies, you gotta love 'em. And he says he that does not love his brother, abides in death. You know, it's kind of supernatural to be able to love that way, isn't it? But that's what the Lord is calling us to do. I'm gonna read the last verses now.

"Having been born again ... " This is how you do it. " ... not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of God ... " We get this power through his word, " ... which lives and abides forever. Because all flesh is as grass." Now he's quoting Isaiah. "And all the glory of man is the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower fades away, but the word of the Lord endures forever." Now, this is the word which, by the gospel, was preached to you. He preached the word about Christ, the living word.

Anyway, I learned some things studying. I hope you learned some things in studying together with me. And we want to remind our friends, we have a great free offer. It's called "Is It Easier to be Saved or Lost?", an encouraging book by Joe Crews. When you call the free number, 866-788-9366, ask for the study guide. We'll send it to you. Just please, read it, and then share it with somebody. That's offer number 124, once again.

God bless you, til we study His word together again next week.

Narrator: Let's face it, it's not always easy to understand everything you read in the Bible. With over 700,000 words, contained in 66 books, the Bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical straight forward answers, call into Bible Answers Live, a live nationwide call in radio program, where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor, and ask him your most difficult Bible questions. For times and stations in your area, or to listen to answers online, visit bal.amazingfacts.org.

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Is It Easier to Be Saved or Lost? (PB) by Joe Crews

Is It Easier to Be Saved or Lost? (PB) by Joe Crews
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