Scattered, Sojourning, Suffering & Struggling Saints

Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Peter unto the saints which were scattered throughout Asia and the surrounding region. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the third chapter of this New Testament book. “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands: that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fire. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this matter in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands; even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:1-7).

 

            “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righte3ous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (1 Peter 3:8-13).

 

            “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled: but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God b e so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing” (1 Peter 3:14-17).

 

            “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometimes were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto0 even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:18-22).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Peter taking a turn within the epistle. Having written a great deal about suffering in this life and the imminent appearing and coming again of the Lord Jesus the apostle Peter now shift gears to speak directly unto husbands and wives. At this point within the epistle the apostle feels compelled to turn and direct his attention to the role and relationship that exists between husbands and wives. In the previous chapters the apostle Peter speaks unto servants concerning the relationship to their masters as well as unto citizens concerning their relationship unto the king and those who are in authority over them. In the opening two chapters of the epistle the apostle Peter called and drew the attention of his readers and audience to Christian living—not only in light of suffering and affliction experienced in this life but also in light of the imminent return of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that when you read the previous chapters you will find the apostle Peter addressing and speaking unto them as strangers and pilgrims in this world thus denoting and suggesting that this world was indeed not their home. That which the apostle Peter wrote unto his readers and audience was meant to address them as those to whom this world did not belong and those of whom this world was not their home. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to how we as the saints of God are indeed to live in this life as those who have been redeemed, bought and purchased by the blood of the Lord Jesus.

 

            There is absolutely no denying and mistaking the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the language found in the epistle for the apostle Paul was writing unto those who were scattered throughout the different regions of Asia during those days. In all reality it’s quite remarkable to think about and consider the fact that the apostle Peter was indeed writing unto those who were scattered abroad throughout the known world during those days for it further speaks to the awesome and wonderful reality of their being strangers and pilgrims within and upon the earth. I feel absolutely compelled to call and draw your attention to the truly wonderful and powerful truth surrounding this reality and concept for those who live their lives as strangers and pilgrims in the earth are those who not only recognize this world is not their home but are also those who recognize the world has absolutely nothing for them. Those who do in fact live as strangers and pilgrims in the earth are those who are able to live their lives detached from the things of the world and are able to flesh out the words which James wrote concerning friendship with the world as being enmity with God. Those who are willing to live their lives as strangers and pilgrims in the earth are those who recognize that those who would choose to live as friends of the world make themselves an enemy of the living God.

 

            It is with all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis concerning Abram’s being called of the Lord to leave his kindred, his country and his father’s house and journey unto a land which the living God would show him. What’s more is I find it necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote concerning Abram’s departing from Ur of the Chaldeans—and not only Ur of the Chaldeans but also Haran that he might walk before and follow the voice and will of the eternal God who dwelt within heaven. In addition to this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by James the half-brother of Jesus which was written unto the twelve tribes of Israel which were scattered abroad throughout the earth. Not only this but I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are written in the second chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle John unto the saints which were at Ephesus. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in these passages of Scripture beginning with the Old Testament book of Genesis:

 

            “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him; and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unot a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south” (Genesis 12:1-9).

 

            “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).

 

            “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

 

            “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not; ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:1-10).

 

            “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).

 

            There is a great need to recognize and understand the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for beginning with the narrative of Abraham we are brought face to face with one who heard the voice of the living God speak unto him and call him to leave, abandon and forsake everything he had known. What makes the narrative of Abraham so incredibly intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you discover that he was seventy-five years old when the LORD first appeared unto him and called him to depart from his kindred, from his country and from his father’s home. Stop and think about what such a call and invitation would have meant for one who had spent three quarters of a century living upon the earth. What’s more is that not only did Abraham spend three quarters of a century living upon the earth but I would venture to say that he spent that entire time living in Ur of the Chaldeans. I would dare say that Abraham was born and raised and grew up in Ur of the Chaldeans and had established himself in the midst of that place. For seventy-five years Abraham lived and dwelt in Ur of the Chaldeans and now almost eight decades later the LORD appeared unto him and called him to depart from that place and to leave everything he had known that he might walk before, walk with and follow the living and eternal God. This is incredibly captivating and intriguing when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding just what Abraham left behind.

 

            More often than not when we think of following the voice of the living God we think of it as being done earlier on in life. When we think of following the voice of the living God we think of it in terms of having not spent as much time walking upon the earth and perhaps not even leaving as much behind to walk with and follow the voice of the LORD. What we find with the narrative of Abraham, however, is one who had established himself in a certain place for almost eight decades. Pause for a moment and think about the tremendous amount of history that was present within the life of Abraham—and not only that which was present within the life of Abraham but even his wife Sarah as well. Seventy-five years is an incredibly long time to spend in a single place and even more so when you think about having to leave everything you have known for that amount of time. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and incredible truth surrounding just how powerful the call and invitation was to Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldeans. That which the living God was asking and inviting him to leave was more than simply his country, it was more than his kindred, and it was more than his father’s house but it was leaving seventy-five years of history behind. Stop and think about what it would have been like for Abraham to follow and obey the voice of the LORD in performing such obedience to a voice he had perhaps not heard before.

 

            If you read and consider the Scriptures you will find Moses the man of God being eighty years old when the LORD appeared to him in the midst of the burning bush at Horeb the mountain of God in the wilderness. It would be when Moses was eighty years old the living and eternal God would appear to him and invite him to return to the land of Egypt to be an instrument of deliverance for the people of God who had spent more than four centuries living in slavery and bondage in the midst of the land. Stop and consider the history Moses himself would have had for according to Stephen in his defense before the Jews Moses had spent the first forty years of his life living as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Having fled the land of Egypt when his sin of murdering an Egyptians was found out and discovered he would live and dwell in the land of Midian where he would tend his father-in-law Jethro’s sheep. After having spent forty years living and dwelling the land of Midian the voice of the living God would speak unto him and invite him to return unto the land of Egypt to bring deliverance to the people of God—and not only deliverance for the people of God but also a showdown with the gods of Egypt. Moses was eighty years old when the voice of the LORD had spoken unto him and had spent four decades in two different places within the earth. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous and wonderful truth surrounding that which even Moses had to leave behind to follow the voice of the living God.

 

            That which makes the narrative of Moses all the more intriguing when you think about and consider it is that the voice of the LORD wasn’t calling and inviting him to leave his native country, his kindred and his father’s house and journey unto a place that was unfamiliar with him. If you read the narrative of Moses you will find the LORD did not call him to a place he had never seen before with his natural eyes but instead called him to a place where he had previously lived and dwelt. For Abraham at the age of seventy-five the living God called him to go out and journey unto a place that was entirely and altogether unfamiliar to him—a place he had never known and had not previously lived or dwelt in. For Moses, however, we find the living and eternal God calling and inviting him to return unto that place where he was at the first. When we speak of the narrative of Abraham we find the living God speaking unto him out of the midst of the burning bush and commanding him to return unto the land of Egypt—and not only returning unto the land of Egypt but return unto a land which he had personally fled after having been discovered as one who murdered another human being and burying his body in the sand. The story of Moses is one that is similar to that of Abraham’s story in that the voice of the living God spoke unto both of them and invited them to follow His voice and His command and yet it’s different in that Abraham was called to depart and go out while Moses was called to return.

 

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in each of these narratives and I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote in the same chapter where they wrote of the faith Abraham exercised and exhibited when he departed from Ur of the Chaldeans to follow the voice of the living God. In the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews we find the author writing and speaking unto them concerning the faith Abraham exercised to depart from Ur of the Chaldeans as well as the faith he exercised to live as a stranger and pilgrim who sojourned in the land dwelling in tents. What makes this all the more astonishing and fascinating when you take the time to consider it is when you read the words which the author of the same epistle wrote concerning Moses. Not only this but I find it also necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which Stephen spoke unto those who would accuse him before the Sanhedrin in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It would be standing before the Sanhedrin surrounded by those who not only sought to accuse him but also stone him we find him appealing to their own history—and not only their history but also the history of both Abraham and Moses. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in both the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews as well as the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:

 

            “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).

 

            “In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months: And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed and smote the Egyptian: for he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the LORD in a flame of fire in a bush. When MNoses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the LORD came unto him, saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. Then said the LORD to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? The same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: to whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And they made a calf in those days and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your God Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of our father David” (Acts 7:30-45).

 

            When you think about and consider the words which are found in both of these passages of Scripture you will encounter the awesome and incredible truth surrounding Moses and how the LORD appeared to him out of the midst of the burning bush at Horeb the mountain of God in the wilderness of Sinai. What makes the words in each of these passages so incredibly unique and powerful when you consider them is when you read how after Moses fled from the land of Egypt after it was discovered that he had murdered an Egyptian and buried his body in the sand he sojourned as a stranger in the land of Midian. This concept of Moses sojourning as a stranger and pilgrim in a land he was unfamiliar with is quite astonishing when you take the time to think about it for we know that Abraham sojourned in the land of Canaan pitching tents and building altars as a stranger and pilgrim in the midst thereof. We know that for more than twenty-five years Abraham sojourned as a stranger and pilgrim in the land of Canaan as he not only followed the voice of the living God but also obeyed that which was commanded of him. It’s truly captivating to read the words found in the seventh chapter of the book of Acts and read of Moses himself sojourning as a stranger and pilgrim in the land of Midian. For more than four-hundred years the children of Israel were themselves strangers and pilgrims in the midst of a land that was not their own—similar to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob their fathers who lived and dwelt as strangers in the land of Canaan.

 

            It’s quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that when Abraham entered into the land of Canaan it was a land he was entirely and altogether unfamiliar with having never lived or dwelt there before. Abraham would spent twenty-five years sojourning in this land as a stranger and pilgrim until Isaac was born unto both he and Sarah. That which is captivating concerning Isaac and Jacob is that both of them were born in the land in which Abraham sojourned as a stranger and pilgrim. It’s almost the concept of one’s parents being born in a country other than the United States of America and crossing over the border into the country or entering into the country by plane from another country. If these wish to become citizens of this nation they need to go through a tremendous process to become a citizen and even need to take a test before they will be considered a citizen of this country. If, however, they conceive a child and that child is born in this nation they are automatically a citizen of this nation because they were born free in the midst of it. It is this same concept that we must needs consider when speaking of Isaac and Jacob for although Abraham departed from Ur of the Chaldeans and Haran to come unto the land of Canaan he lived and dwelt as a stranger in the midst of the land. Isaac and Jacob were themselves born in the midst of the land of Canaan—born in the midst of the land the Lord swore on oath unto Abraham and promised would be given as a possession unto his seed and descendants.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the tremendous importance of these words for they call and draw our attention to the truly wonderful reality of those who were born in the midst of the land of promise rather than entering into that land from another distant country. Abraham lived and dwelt as a stranger and pilgrim in the midst of the land and when Isaac was born—not only would he be born in the land but he would be born in the land which his father had dwelt for twenty-five years. As Isaac would grow up he would grow up learning the land of Canaan which was the land his father had known for the past two and a half decades. Whereas Abraham had a life prior to the one he lived in the land of Canaan—a life in Ur of the Chaldeans and even in Haran—the only life Isaac would know of his father was that in the land of Canaan. Oh this is something which must needs be recognized and paid great attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful truth surrounding Isaac only knowing the land of Canaan and the promise spoken unto his father. Abraham had known his life—essentially a life B.C. although not “Before Christ” but rather “Before the Call.” Abraham had a life which he lived before the call of God and yet he would come unto the land of Canaan and live and dwell as a stranger and pilgrim for twenty-five years before Isaac would be born. Both Isaac and Jacob would be born in the land of Canaan—essentially as citizens of the land of promise which was to be given unto them and unto their descendants. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and consider those who were indeed born free in the midst of the land of Canaan and were born as citizens of the country so to speak because the only land they knew was the land of Canaan.

 

            There is something truly powerful about this concept of Abraham sojourning as a stranger and pilgrim in the land of Canaan as well as Moses sojourning as a stranger in the land of Midian for both the one to whom the promise would be given and the one who would deliver the people of God from their bondage and slavery would sojourn in a land not their own. Moses would sojourn as a stranger and pilgrim in the land of Midan and would spend forty years in the midst thereof tending his father-in-law’s sheep. Oh we must not miss and lose sight of this for even the children of Israel themselves were strangers and pilgrims in the land of Egypt for that land was not their own and was not theirs by inheritance and promise. It is this concept of sojourning in a land as strangers and pilgrims we must needs recognize and understand for it brings us face to face with the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the first epistle. It is this first epistle which the apostle Peter wrote unto those who were strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the land—and not only strangers and pilgrims in the earth but strangers and pilgrims where they were presently living and dwelling. It’s quite remarkable to read the words which are found within this first epistle written by the apostle Peter for he was writing unto those who were scattered throughout Asia—some who had perhaps experienced their own journey from their country, from their kindred and from their father’s house.

 

            Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding this first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto these who were scattered throughout Asia is that he was writing unto them as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the earth. Although they might indeed have been strangers and pilgrims in a physical and natural land that was not their own they would be strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the earth itself. Pause for a moment and consider just how absolutely incredible the words in this passage truly are for they bring us face to face with the wonderful truth of a people who were invited to live their days as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the earth. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and brings us face to face with that which we have been called to in this life—namely as those who are indeed called to live as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of this earth. I have said it before and it warrants repeating as we have indeed been called to live as strangers and pilgrims in this earth. That which we see and behold within the lives of Abraham and Moses—and not only within the lives of these men but also the lives of the children of Israel in the land of Egypt—is a powerful picture of the type of life we have indeed been called to. We as the people of God have indeed been called to live our lives as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of this world as we recognize that this world is not our own nor do we have any stake or claim within it. Oh there is something truly powerful about those who recognize and understand that this world is indeed not their home and that they have been called to live as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the earth—those who are completely and utterly detached from its lusts,  its pleasures and its desires.

 

            It’s absolutely wonderful and challenging to read the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews for within it we encounter and are brought face to face with the narrative of Moses who refused to be called the son of Pharaoh and refused to enjoy the pleasures of sin esteeming the reproaches of Christ as of greater value. What’s more is Moses chose to suffer reproach together with the children of Israel rather than enjoying the pleasures which were present in the midst of the land of Egypt. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews emphatically declared concerning Moses that it was by and through faith he chose to suffer reproach with his brethren as well as forsaking the pleasures of the land of Egypt—a reality which we as the people of God in our own generation must needs recognize and understand. When we read the first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto those who were strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the earth we must needs recognize and understand that we have been called to live our lives completely and utterly detached from this world as those for whom the world has nothing to offer or give unto us. The words which the apostle Peter wrote unto those who were already scattered abroad in the midst of the earth must be carefully understood by us who read them for we as the saints of God and those who would walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ must live our lives as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the earth. We must needs be those of whom the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote when they spoke of looking for a better country and a city which has foundations. The apostle John was very clear and forthright when he admonished and commanded his audience to love not the world nor anything in it. The apostle John was incredibly adamant and clear when writing this epistle that those who would call themselves the saints of God must needs completely and utterly detach themselves from the world and everything that is in the midst thereof.

 

            If you read the words which are found in the eleventh verse of this first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto these saints who were scattered abroad throughout Asia and the surrounding region you will find him writing unto them as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the earth. What we must needs recognize and understand concerning this concept of being strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the earth is that only to the degree and measure we are willing to live our lives as such in the earth can and will we be able to deliver ourselves from the fleshly lusts and earthly desires which are present in the midst of the earth. It is directly after writing unto them as unto those who were strangers and pilgrims the apostle Peter admonished them to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Not only this but the apostle Peter also instructed them to let their conversation be honest among the Gentiles that whereas they might speak against them as evildoers they may by their good works which they behold glorify God in the day of visitation. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that although we are indeed strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the earth we are called to bear witness and testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ. It is something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Peter was writing unto these dear saints who were scattered throughout the earth and admonishing to guard their conversation—their manner of witness and testimony—in the midst of the earth that others might see their good works and glorify their Father who was in heaven. Consider if you will the following words which were spoken by the Lord Jesus which undoubtedly served as the foundation for the words Peter wrote in this passage of Scripture:

 

            “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within them Jesus brings His audience and us to the place where we are completely and utterly mindful of our witness and testimony in the midst of the earth. It was the Lord Jesus who first admonished men to let their light so shine before men that they may see their good works and glorify their Father which is in heaven. There is not a doubt in my mind that this was the foundation for the words which the apostle Peter wrote in this first epistle when he admonished his readers and audience to let their conversation be holy among the Gentiles that they might see their good works and glorify God the Father who dwells in heaven. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves when we read these words is whether or not we are such whose lives present a powerful witness in the sight of the living God. Are we so mindful of our witness, our testimony and our conversation in the midst of those who live before and around us that they might see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven? Do we pay any attention and any mind to our witness and testimony in the midst of the earth that others might see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven?

 

            If you continue reading within the first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto these saints which were scattered abroad throughout Asia you will find him shifting gears to addressing the home. As you come to the third chapter of this epistle you can and will be brought face to face with the apostle Peter writing and speaking unto both husbands and wives. What makes the words which are found in this passage of Scripture so incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about it is when you consider how he opens the third chapter. In the first and opening verse of this chapter the apostle Peter speaks directly unto wives and admonishes them to be in subjection to their own husbands. What makes the words the apostle Peter writes so incredibly captivating when you take the time to carefully consider them is that what he was speaking of was essentially the same thing he had written in the previous chapter. It was in the second chapter the apostle Peter spoke of their conversation in the midst of the Gentiles and how they were to carefully guard their conversation among the Gentiles that although they might revile and even persecute them they might see their good works and glorify God the Father in the last day. What we find in the third chapter is not necessarily the witness of a saint of the living God per se but rather the witness of the wife who might very well be married to a man who does not believe. The apostle Peter wrote in this particular passage that the wife who believes and carefully guards her conversation and manner of living in this life can indeed bear a good witness and testimony in the sight of her husband. It would be in the first verse of this passage the apostle Peter speaks of those husbands who do not believe and yet because of the silent witness of their wives they might without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.

 

            The more we read the words which are found in the third chapter of this epistle the more we are brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the silent witness of the saint of God and disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. What began in the second chapter as the silent witness of works would ultimately continue in the third chapter along the same lines. In the second chapter it was the silent witness of works while in the third chapter it would be the silent witness of wives who would have an honest witness and testimony in the sight of their husbands who neither believe nor obey the word of truth. Oh this is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding our own silent witness in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation in which we were living. We must give honest and open heed to the words which our Lord Jesus spoke unto His disciples and followers for there is something about living a quiet and peaceable life among the Gentiles that serves as one of the greatest witnesses we can ever think or hope to have. We cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not be brought face to face with the incredibly wonderful truth surrounding the powerful witness and testimony the saints of God have in the midst of the earth. Within the second chapter—not only do we see a picture of kings, and governors, and rulers, and those in authority bearing witness to our conversation and testimony as we through humility submit ourselves to authority but we also find the Gentiles themselves beholding our good works and glorifying our Father which is in heaven.

 

            If you read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture you will without a doubt be brought face to face with the wonderful and powerful truth surrounding this silent witness of works that more often than not speaks louder than words. There would be those who would like to think that it is through the words we speak that others are won unto the Lord and yet the truth of the matter is that more often than not it is our works which carry a greater witness and testimony in the midst of the earth. There are within the countless churches among us in this nation those who think and feel as though their words are the ultimate witness and testimony necessary to win the lives of men and women and yet what Scripture reveals to us as that it is our conversation—our witness and our testimony in the midst of the earth—that truly does win others to the Lord. You cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the clarion call to be those who have such a powerful witness and testimony in the midst of the earth. It would be in the second chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Peter we find the apostle of Christ admonishing men and women to submit themselves unto the authorities which are present in the midst of the earth that through their submission they might not only please God but might also have a powerful testimony in the sight of men. What we must needs recognize and understand is that our witness and testimony is more often than not the greatest simply by the way we conduct ourselves and how we live our lives in the midst of this generation than anything else. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Philippian saints:

 

            “Wherefore my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me” (Philippians 2:12-18).

 

            This is something we have great need of recognizing and understanding for if you continue reading the words which are found in this first epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find him writing and speaking unto his audience concerning their relationship to each other. You cannot read the words the apostle Peter wrote unto those saints which were scattered abroad throughout Asia without encountering and coming face to face with the witness among the Gentiles as well as the relationship with each other. This epistle calls and draws our attention to the twin reality of our witness among the Gentiles and those outside the body of Christ as well as our witness and relationship to those who are present within the body of Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for it is what we find at the heart of the latter portion of the third chapter of this epistle. Beginning with the eighth verse of this epistle we find the apostle Peter admonishing them to all be of one mind, having compassion one of another, to love as brethren, to be pitiful, to be courteous, to not render evil for evil or railing for railing but blessing. Essentially that which the apostle Peter was writing and speaking of now was their fellowship and relationship one with another. This is something which the apostle Paul himself also wrote and spoke unto the Philippian congregation in the second chapter of that epistle. Just before the apostle Paul would write and speak to them concerning their shining as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation he would write and speak to them concerning the mind of Christ being present and manifested within them. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in the second chapter of this epistle beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

 

            “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this. Mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:1-11).

 

            Beginning with the eighth verse of the third chapter of this first epistle the apostle Peter admonishes the saints of God to be of one mind as they have the same compassion one of another and love as brethren. That which the apostle Peter was seeking to encourage among the saints was this corporate community and fellowship among them—the same that was fostered and found among the early Church from the day of Pentecost onward. It would be during those early days when the saints of God and disciples of Christ would be of one mind, one heart, one soul and one purpose as they would give themselves to fellowship, hospitality and the breaking of bread from house to house. The apostle Peter sought to encourage those to whom he was writing along the same lines as that which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippians. The apostle Paul desired among the saints that they be likeminded having the same love and being of one accord and of one mind. Both the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul knew and understood how deadly and dangerous division, strife, envying and contention were among the saints of God and a good portion of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints deals with this division among the saints of God which profess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That which the apostle Peter desired to do in the midst of this epistle was call and invite the saints of God into the place where they were gracious, compassionate, hospitable and loving toward another as they were of one mind, one heart, one spirit and one purpose.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close you will find the apostle Peter goes on to speak unto these dear saints along the lines of suffering and affliction. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find within this epistle is a strong undercurrent of suffering and affliction among those saints which were scattered abroad throughout Asia and the surrounding region. You cannot read this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome truth that the apostle Peter was indeed writing unto those who had suffered, those who were suffering, and those who would in fact suffer in the coming days. Keep in mind these words were written roughly ten years prior to Nero’s persecution of Christians within Rome and throughout the Roman Empire—days when Christians were put to death with the sword, killed in the arena by gladiators, killed in the arena by wild beasts, burned alive at the stake, tortured, imprisoned and even crucified. There is absolutely no denying the words and language found within this epistle and how the apostle Peter was writing unto those concerning the suffering and affliction they would indeed face in this life as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. There has been a strong undertone and current found within this epistle concerning the suffering and affliction of the saints of God and the suffering and affliction they would indeed face in this life. It was the apostle Paul who declared that all who were godly would suffer and experience affliction in this life and that we must through many trials enter into the kingdom of heaven. The epistle written by the apostle Peter is absolutely no exception to this reality of suffering and when writing unto these saints which were scattered the apostle was writing unto scattered, sojourning, suffering and struggling saints. SCATTERED, SOJOURNING, SUFFERING AND STRUGGLING SAINTS!

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Peter writing and speaking unto them concerning the eyes of the Lord as being over the righteous and his ears are open unto their prayers but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. This would be followed by the apostle Peter writing concerning those who would harm them if they indeed be followers of that which is good. The apostle Peter would speak unto them concerning their suffering for righteousness’ sake and how they ought to be happy when they do in fact suffer for righteousness’ sake not being afraid of their terror nor be troubled. Moreover the apostle Peter would instruct them to sanctify the Lord God in their hearts and always be ready to give an answer to every man that asks them a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. This answer and witness would be coupled together with a good conscience that whereas they might speak evil of them as evildoers they may be ashamed that falsely accuse their good conversation with Christ. The apostle Peter goes on even further to declare that it is better—if the will of God be so—that the saints of God suffer for well doing than for evil doing. At the very heart of this willingness to bear up and endure under suffering and affliction is the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ and how He was indeed willing to suffer in the flesh and even taste death at the hands of men. There must be a great and wonderful understanding within our hearts and souls concerning suffering and that in this life we can and will experience suffering, affliction and perhaps even persecution. What’s more is that there are those who read the words found in the epistle written by the apostle Peter concerning always being ready to give an answer to every man that asks a reason of the hope that was with them and they think that this deals specifically and exclusively with the reality of witness and testimony alone.

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely captivating within my own heart and soul concerning the need to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts—and not only this but always be ready to give an answer to every man that asks of us the reason of the hope that is in us with meekness and fear. In all reality this seems to be in direct alignment with the words the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy when he instructed and admonished him to be instant in season and out of season. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to be those who are always ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us and even when we are being reviled, persecuted, falsely accused, ridiculed and mocked we are to not trust nor rely on our own wisdom. What’s more is that we are not to pay any attention to that which we will speak for in that moment it will not be we ourselves who speak but rather it will be the living Spirit of God who speaks in and through us. We as the saints of God must be those who have an honest conversation with those before and around us as we are those whom others can see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. There is perhaps no greater witness within the life of one who professes to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ than when they are in the midst of suffering and when they are in the midst of affliction. Not only this but there is a wonderful and powerful witness found within those who when they are being reviled do not revile back and when they are being given evil do not return evil for evil. Oh there is a great need for us to recognize that we have indeed been called to live our lives as those who are entirely and altogether separate from the world and conduct ourselves as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the world recognizing that this world is not our home. As such—not only does the world not have anything for us or any hold on us but there is nothing man can truly do to us for to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Moreover it was Jesus Himself who instructed his disciples and followers to not be afraid of those who can only kill the body but to fear the one who can not only kill the body but cast the soul into hell. Oh that we would live our lives as those who move with godly fear and reverence in the sight and presence of the living God that we might have a powerful witness and testimony among men in this crooked and perverse generation.

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