Happenings around Antioch

Encouragement for Elect Exiles

As citizens of heaven, we who belong to Christ live among a people and in a culture that is not native to us now. I am reminded of that often at the university where I teach, and sometimes it’s just because I cannot keep up with the 18-21 year old vernacular. When I was growing up, sick was a bad thing. We’d feel bad for our sick friends and we didn’t know anything about a sick movie or song. Same with nasty. Nasty was when the kid next to you threw up in the cafeteria, not when he tomahawk-dunked a basketball. Dope was something we were told to avoid, not something really cool. Or rad.

In the greeting of his first letter to Christian exiles, Peter doesn’t mention anything about race, ethnicity, or language, but defined his readers by their status as God’s elect. This diaspora is made up of mainly Gentiles, who did not grow up in the Jewish covenant. Peter greets these Gentiles, however, as God’s chosen people. They are elect exiles, and so are all who belong to Christ. We live between two worlds, passing through this one while living for the glory of Christ by the grace of God so that others may see the hope that is within us and ask us for a reason. We are living in God’s witness rejection program, if you will, and that does not hinder the Lord to do his work in us in any way.

Peter uses four phrases to describe the position of the elect. He says we are elect “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” Those who are elect are chosen by God before the foundations of the world. The ESV Study Bible says that the foreknowledge of God “means that he set his covenantal affection on (the elect) in advance, foreordaining that they would belong to him.” David Guzik writes, “Election is not election at all if it is only a cause-and-effect arrangement basing God’s choice only on man’s.” That means, believer, that you were the object of God’s loving concern from all eternity. He loved you even before he formed you in the womb. Edmund Clowney writes, “The mystery of God’s choosing will always offend those who stand before God in pride. Forgetting their rebellion and guilt against God, they are ready to accuse him of favoritism. But those whom God’s love has drawn to Christ will always confess the wonder of his initiative in grace.”

We are elect “in the sanctification of the Spirit,” and as Paul wrote, “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” That’s the process that happens while we are living here, between two worlds. Looking more like Jesus over time is the proof that we belong to the Father. Antioch met on the college campus for nine years. One day we divided into groups of two or three and were passing out flyers on a Saturday afternoon. My oldest son was not in my group and one of the students he gave a flyer to said, “Hey, are you related to Mark Fox?” Micah said, “Yeah, he’s my dad.” The student said, “I thought so! You look just like him.” I apologized to Micah for that later. But we, the sons and daughters of Christ, are being made more and more to look like him in our character and in our obedience.

We are elect “for obedience to Jesus Christ” The obedience here starts with the faith we received as a gift from God to believe! Peter says in effect, “You were chosen by God and are being sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ. You have the Triune God with you, working on you, walking with you, helping you to stand and promising you an inheritance that is beyond anything our imagination can conceive. So walk. Stand. Obey by faith. How can we do that?

We are elect “for sprinkling with his blood.”  You will see Peter use some Old Testament references through the letter, perhaps to give these Gentiles some understanding of the tree they were grafted into. The two times in Exodus when blood was sprinkled on people may be in his mind here. The people of God were sprinkled with the blood of a sacrifice to confirm the covenant God had made with them. Then the first priests were ordained by Moses through the same sprinkling of blood from a sacrifice. That’s a heavy weight and a joyful one, because it is by the blood of Christ that we come into God’s family and that we are made part of the “royal priesthood” that Peter mentions in his letter.

Last week we baptized 8 young people and children at Antioch and I reminded them they had already been sprinkled, washed, by the blood of Jesus. They were brought into the covenant by grace through faith when they first believed. They entered into the royal priesthood when the Spirit gave them life.

Now they live as elect exiles between two worlds, for the glory of God!