Perilous Times Primer #4

No Accidents in God’s Plan

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect pilgrims of the dispersion …
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of
the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ …” 1Pe 1:1-2
(emphasis added)
We have recognized that we are entering “perilous times” (2Ti 3:1–5).  Actually, America—drunk on power, prosperity, and personal opportunities—has been drifting away from its moorings for a long time. A major shift began to take place in the early sixties, when the Supreme Court began a series of moves to banish prayer from schools, and the Word of God from the public forum.
Today, America is reeling drunkenly, like Judah in the days of Jeremiah and we are heading toward the same dismal trash heap of history to which they, and other nations, have been cast. Just this week, Americans got a preview of the dangerous direction we are taking. With the leak of a DHS memo, in which all who hold to America’s cherished and traditional values were criminalized, including suspicion being placed on our veterans, we have a preview of what lies ahead. You should check out Judge Napolitano’s “Six things you should know about the Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism.” Following is one quote, which I think summarizes this report:


“My guess is that the sentiments revealed in the report I read are the tip of an iceberg that the DHS would prefer to keep submerged until it needs to reveal it. This iceberg is the heavy-hand of government; a government with large and awful eyes, in whose heart there is no love for freedom, and on whose face there is no smile.”


The government we see developing before our eyes is hostile to the people it leads, especially those who would dare question or resist the staggering direction it is taking. We must be sure where we stand, and have the will to STAND. It may prove costly in days ahead, but WE WERE BORN FOR THIS TIME!
We have looked at two ascending levels of spiritual preparation. Without reviewing, let’s move on to a third. But first, some points from the passage quoted above:
  1. We are chosen for this generation! In almost every English translation, the word “elect” is found in verse two. This favors a view of “election” not found in Scripture. In the Greek it modifies “pilgrims,” and is a strong reminder that God places each of us in the time and place of His “good pleasure”. We, like the recipients of this epistle, are “chosen pilgrims,” for a divine purpose.
  2. This divine choice is according to His “foreknowledge,” His pre-determined plan, which is redemptive in nature and centers around the Lord Jesus Christ, the Elect One” (Isa 42:1-2). The word translated “according to” indicates a set norm and standard.
  3. God’s plan for the believer is “sanctification,” that is to be “set apart” for God’s service, which includes the idea of “obedience” to His will. Christian obedience not only glorifies God, and brings blessing upon the believer, but also is the key to effective witness to the world of the power of redemption.
  4. This brings us to the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” When one believes in Jesus Christ as Savior, God the Holy Spirit applies the work of Christ on the cross to that believing one, thus “sprinkling” him with the “blood of Christ.” This is a figure taken from Exo 24:6-8 and Exo 29:15-21, where Moses took the blood of sacrifice and sprinkled it on the altar, the people, and the priests, while reading from the “Book of the Covenant.” The imagery is that when we receive the Word of God, and trust in the work of Christ, we are reconciled to God, and can “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” (Heb 10:22).
An important point needs to be made about what Peter is saying here. Those who are “chosen pilgrims,” placed in history according to God’s pre-determined plan, are to be sanctified to the point of obedience to His will, in the midst of the difficulties in which they find themselves. To what end? So that they fulfill their priesthood (1Pe 2:5-9) in spreading the “sprinkling of the blood” to others. In other words, we are to be effective witnesses to our generation, so that the message of the cross of Christ is made available to the world around us. Just as in the original persecution, “those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Act 8:4), so should we!
So, at our third level of preparation, we find ourselves (if we have followed the first two) spiritually prepared personally (level one), and part of a fellowship of like-minded believers whose skills can be pooled (level two). Where do we go from here? Let me suggest three things:
  1. A strong sense of destiny.  Peter wants us to understand the complexity and comprehensiveness of God’s plan. Before we were born, He planned our lives (Jer 1:5; Gal1:15). We are not only in the place and time of His choosing, but for His purpose. We need a rock-solid conviction that nothing can keep us from the fulfillment of His plan (see Rom 8:31-39 and 11:29) except our own unfaithfulness and unwillingness to play the part He has ordained for us.
  2. The will to win.  It is one thing to know God has a good plan for our lives (Jer 29:11-13—this was spoken to the captives of the exile), but it is another to have the will to submit to and cooperate in that plan (Phi 2:12-13). There must be a resolute determination to “run the race” and to “fight the good fight” (Heb 12:1-3; 1Ti 1:18 1Ti 6:12). The Christian life demands strenuous effort and diligent application (2Ti 2:15; 2Pe 1:5). When Paul summarized his life, he did so in terms of “winning” (1Co 9:16-27). He shows the inseparable link between winning others to Christ and winning his crown. Whatever trials lie in our path, they are but the obstacles of a “steeple chase” to the crown. The philosopher Epictetus said, (I paraphrase) “When God puts you in difficult circumstances, then know that, like a wise coach, He is matching you with a strong and wily opponent, that you might be prepared to win in the great games.” Resolve daily to lay hold of a strong personal sense of destiny! And never forget that you are part of a team, not a solitary player.
  3. A personal mission.  To use the old Blues Brothers quote, “We are on a mission from God.” For every believer this is literally true. God placed you here for a purpose. That purpose has as its highest goal the glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. The goal is achieved by personal conformity to Jesus Christ, a ministry that strengthens other believers, and an effective witness to the lost of this world. This cannot be done efficiently alone. In these perilous times, many who have been hardened to the Gospel will be made sensitive to spiritual things. As the foundations of life are shaken (Psa 11:3), souls will be made more receptive to the truth of God’s Word. The company of the saints cannot hope to have impact in these conditions unless we have mastered the details of life.
We must rest secure in the mighty hands of God so that we present a serene and content life before the eyes of a shattered and shaken world. If we truly “sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts” (1Pe 3:15), then the world will see our “blessed hope” (Tit 2:13), and “ask a reason for the hope” that is in us.
May God so sanctify us by His Word and Spirit that we will be prepared and equipped to “shine as lights in the world” (Phi 2:15)!
His servant,
Gene Cunningham
April 22, 2009

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