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Strangers In A Strange Land


"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure." 
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's day! We're so glad to have our brothers and sisters from around the world here with us today. Please know, that we continue to lift all of you up in our prayers. We would  ask that you would do the same for us. We are so grateful for those of you who have been sharing the ministry website with all of your family and friends. May God's Word reach those who need to hear, for Christ's sake and God's glory.
Many Christians today, have an inadequate view of suffering. Therefore, rather than submitting to God, they grumble and complain, and are vulnerable to temptation and sin. This is not only an issue for those who think that it’s always God’s will to give us a trouble-free life, but those who are undergoing trials. While others may submit to God, it’s more like disheartened resignation, rather than grateful trust in the Lord. They become depressed by their problems. What these people have in common, is they need hope and holiness in a hostile world, in which Christians find themselves.
Our present culture seems to be spiraling downward into a moral free fall. The liberties that Christians have once taken for granted are being removed. Marriage has been re-framed and redefined. Preaching the Word of God, is now being deemed as hate speech. Our culture is becoming increasingly caustic toward Christianity. For Christians, human life is sacred, it is a gift from God, however, in our society, the sanctity of human life is under attack. It is a dark day in the history of humanity.
The Bible teaches that human beings are created in the image of God. It teaches that murder is forbidden. Yet, murder is occurring at unprecedented rate.
Jeremiah 1:5 says "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."
As Christians, we must get our priorities where they should be as we anticipate the face of the Lord Jesus Christ and His glorious return or our arrival into His presence in glory.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father,
Father, as always we thank You for Your Word for us. We are so grateful for this time together, for the opportunity and privilege of being able to study Your Word. Help us O' Lord, to fully understand the 
tremendous power that trials and adversity has in our life, giving us the assurance that our faith is genuine, saving faith.

Thank You for laying out the standards by which we are to live, and for pointing us in the direction that we need to go, so that we may live in such a way that honor You. Help us to be a covenant keeping people, who understand what it is to have a true relationship to You. Help us to follow the pattern of Christ, Who is our great example, having endured unjust suffering from a hostile world, while maintaining both hope and holiness.
Lord, we pray for those who do not yet know Christ as their Lord and Savior, we pray for those who are self deceived, speak to their hearts today, that they may come to You in repentance and receive the precious gift of true salvation. We humbly ask that You would graciously do that today, that none should perish.
We pray this in Christ's name

Today's Message: Strangers In A Strange Land
As Christians, we are chosen by God. On July 19, 64 A.D., Rome was consumed by a holocaust of fire. The people of Rome, believed that their emperor, Nero, had set their city on fire. And, they believe that he did it, because of his incredible lust for building, and in order to build, he had to destroy what was already in existence. 
Rome was a city of dense population, with narrow streets and high wooden tenements in which the people lived. So, once the fire hit Rome, it consumed it much like kindling. For the first three days and nights the fire spread rapidly, then, it was somewhat contained. However, not totally put out; it ignited again and was even worse.
Historians tell us that Nero was rather charmed by the flames, in fact, he considered them quite lovely. So, having found himself a front row seat,in the Tower of Maecenas, he watched the raging inferno consume the city of Rome. The people of Rome were totally devastated. In a sense, their culture, went down with their city.  
The Temple of Luna, the Ara Maxima, the great altar, the Temple of Jupiter Stator, the Shrine of Vesta, all the religious elements of their life were destroyed. Therefore, it was not just an economic loss, a social loss, it was religious chaos and confusion, realizing that their own deities had been unable to deal with this conflagration. They had not only lost their homes but they had lost one another, in the raging flames of death. And, in a very real sense, they had even lost their gods. Their resentment was deep, and it was deadly.

Nero, having realized that he needed to redirect the hostility, redirected the blame to a group that were known as Christians. So, he spread the word as fast as he could that they were indeed, the ones who set the destructive fires. Because Christians were already slandered, already hated, his plan was rather an ingenious one. 
First, because they were associated with Jews, and there was a vitriolic anti-Semitism in Rome. And second, because Christians were seen as those who would not fully cooperate in emperor worship and those who rejected all the other gods. And, to make matters worse, the Lord's Supper was closed to pagans. Because the pagans were not included, when they had heard of eating and drinking the blood and the flesh of Christ, they assumed that some kind of cannibalism was going on.  And so the word spread that Christians were cannibals. It was even being said that they were eating Gentiles and babies.
Then, there was the embrace that Christians commonly gave to each other when greeting, the Christian kiss of love,to express their affection, the pagans spread the word that they were having unbridled orgies of lust, including homosexuality as men were embracing men with a kiss of love. 
To further compound the problem, many wives of prominent Romans embraced Christ. For a woman to act independently of her husband in the Roman culture was an effrontery that knew no equal. And, because the Christians were always talking about a day when the world would dissolve in flames, it was easy to blame them for the fires.  And, as a result, under the rule of Nero, the persecution against Christians began. According to Tacitus, the Roman historian, it was reported that Nero rolled Christians in pitch, then set them on fire while they were still alive and used them as living torches to light his garden parties. 
He served them up, in the skins of wild animals for his hunting dogs to tear them to pieces. They were also nailed to crosses. Even lynching them without a trial became very common. Christians were imprisoned, racked, seared, broiled, burned, scourged, stoned, hanged and lacerated with red hot knives, some even being thrown onto the horns of bulls. The persecution that had begun in Rome, spread throughout the Roman Empire. Spreading to places like Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. 
It had begun to affect the lives of the Christians who were there, whom Peter calls aliens, strangers. It was sometime after this began, that Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote this epistle. Though we cannot be certain as to exactly when, he was writing to believers who are aliens, who are strangers, who are foreigners in a hostile culture.  It is written in a time when Christians were forced to suffer severe persecution and even the loss of their lives. 
As we begin a new study, open your Bibles with me to the marvelous epistle called I Peter.  If we will pay close attention to its valuable teaching, and learn the lessons that are packed into this wonderful epistle, I believe that we will be strengthened and encouraged as we, ourselves live for Christ, in this hostile world. 
I invite you to follow along with me as I read to set the text in our minds, while we prepare our hearts for what the Holy Spirit is saying to each of us. Listen for the voice of our Lord. I Peter 1:1-2. As we dig into this study, it’s my prayer that we will gather to hear God’s Word, that we will grow deeper in our walk with Christ, that we will give what we’ve been given, better equipped to go with the gospel to the lost and fallen culture around us.
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure."
As Peter begins his letter, he emphasizes that those to whom he writes are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. Therefore, from the very outset of his letter, he takes a theological plunge of profoundly deep proportions.  It is commonly one of the most hated doctrines of the Bible. In fact, it is most often loathed and reviled by the majority of those claiming to be believers. In other words, it's difficult for some to accept that fact, that salvation is an act of God. In his fallenness, man struggles to acknowledge the biblical doctrine of sovereign election. It's as though man desperately wants to take some credit  for having made a right choice. In essence, man wants to exercise his pride.
It is important to note a crucial differences between the perspectives given in our society, through the media, which always approaches these issues from the point of view of human rights and legality and the timeless truth given here by the Apostle Peter, who approaches them from the point of view of our relationship to God, by living holy lives that compel others to watch us. Peter's perspective has almost nothing to do with maximizing material advantages in the present and everything to do with seeing this world through the future oriented lense of Christian hope and promise.
Are we so foolish as to assume that we, who are fallen and sinful creatures have a higher standard of what is right than an infinitely and eternally holy God? God is never to be measured by any human standard, certainly not by a fallen humanity with delusional standard of what is right and wrong. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of the throne of God. 

Psalm 97 says "The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad. Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne."

And, in Isaiah 55:8-9, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts."
In other words, we as fallen creatures, are in no position to judge or determine whether what God does is just, right or fair. Divine justice is an essential attribute of God. He is infinitely and perfectly just in himself, of himself, for himself, from himself, by himself and none other. He is God. For whatsoever He wills is just and because He wills, therefore it is just. God sets the standard. Salvation is never a matter of justice, it is a matter of grace.

Notice, that Peter hasn't even gotten through the first verse before he introduces "chosen." Clearly, it is his intention in these two verses, to identify his readers, as the ones who are chosen of God.  First, he identifies them in relation to their place of geographical location on the earth, they are "scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Then, he identifies them in relation to their place in heaven, "who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood." 
The readers to whom Peter writes are said to be residing as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. The word scattered is the Greek noun "diasporá." It means "dispersion."  It is the technical term in the gospels for the dispersing of the Jews throughout the world. 
It would be a a familiar word to any student of the New Testament.
I do not believe that Peter is using it in a technical way as say James does. If you will look at verse 17
"If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth." I believe that the implication here is your earthly duration, which leads us to believe that he’s talking about people who are not so much strangers in an alien culture, as much as strangers on the earth itself.  He is talking about a believer who is spiritually an alien.
He is not saying "To you, who are Jews who are scattered throughout alien countries." Rather, he is saying "To you Christians, who are aliens in the earth, you are true aliens, and strangers, and pilgrims." They are true strangers scattered throughout the world, away from their true home. He’s addressing the church. 
As a footnote, those province's occupy what we know today as modern Turkey. However, in the time of Peter, they were part of the Roman Empire. His letter to the Christians scattered throughout those Roman provinces, there would be a number of churches which would have a very wide audience. For example, we know from the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, seven of those churches in Asia would receive a letter from our Lord Jesus. There were a number of other churches, like Colossae, who are not mentioned in Revelation. Therefore, there may have been a number of churches of in Pontus, in Cappadocia, and in Bithynia.
His audience would have been wide because of the persecution that had come against Christians as a result of them being blamed for the burning of Rome, which was sweeping throughout the Roman Empire. Everywhere that persecution emerged, Christians were going to have to pay the price. And so, he writes to embrace them all, to teach them how to face suffering triumphantly. He wants them to grasp the tremendously comforting reality, that they were chosen by God. The word aliens, is the adjective "parepídēmos," which literally means passing through.
These believers, these aliens, who are the redeemed church, are the chosen, the "eklektós," it’s a verbal adjective, meaning "called out," "chosen out by God for the rendering of special service to Him." It was even was a term for Israel in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 7:6 says "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth." And so, God chose His people, by His own free will, we are the elect. God hasn’t changed His method. Believe me, God is not sitting on His throne saying "I hope that some nation on the earth will believe in Me and choose Me." 

Look at Matthew 24:22, in talking about the Tribulation, "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short." And, in verse 24, "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect."
We find this term used again in verse 31, "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other."
We can therefore conclude, it is a term for Christians.    
And, in Luke's gospel, chapter 18:7, "now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?"
We too, are scattered strangers, living in an increasingly strange land. The reality is, if you’re a true follower of Jesus Christ, this world is not your home. Paul says in Philippians 3:20, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." I believe it is very tragic, that many Christians seem to have put their roots so firmly in the world, that they seldom focus on the reality of our real home. It’s so easy to become caught up into thinking that this world is all there is.
C.S. Lewis once said, "It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this."
So, when Peter writes to the chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, he's saying "You may not be the chosen of this world, but you are the chosen of God. God made the choice, not us." 
I want you to understand what the Bible clearly says, and that's that you are a Christian, because you are chosen to be one by God. 
In Acts 15:14, "Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name." God’s whole plan is to choose a people. There is a part of us that would like to think in part, it depended on us, that we made a decision to come to Christ. God alone is the cause of our salvation, He creates faith and gives us repentance as a gift.
In Ephesians 2:8-10, Paul tells us "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."
In John 15:16, Jesus said "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you." 
John 17:9, Jesus says "I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;" God the Father chose us and gave us to Christ, as a gift of love. God has just as much right to use His attribute of destruction and wrath and put that on display against ungodly, as He does to put his grace, and love, and mercy on display for those He elects. By choosing to argue with what God says in His Word, you are demonstrating the ignorance of your finite mind. If you cannot understand it, you just need to believe it! Your salvation was a direct work of God.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:5-6, "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."
In Closing..
Before the foundation of the world, you were in God's plan. Like you, I was chosen, I just showed up when I was called, it certainly had nothing to do with me. In fact, I didn't even exist when God decided it. Even though the Bible says it, there is something within us that resists it.We resist because of our pride. Let me tell you, this is the truth and you cannot debate God's truth.

Arthur Pink once said, "The only reason why anyone believes in Election is because he finds it clearly taught in God's Word. No man, or number of men, ever originated this doctrine. Like the doctrine of eternal punishment, it conflicts with the dictates of the carnal mind and is repugnant to the sentiments of the unregenerate heart, and like the doctrine of the holy trinity and the miraculous birth of our Savior, the truth of election must be received with simple unquestioning faith."
I must confess, I too struggle with the fact, that some will not be saved. But I believe it with all my heart because the Bible teaches it. God gave us the doctrine of election was to tell us two things; first, that He is in charge. And second, that because He is gracious to those of us who could never have earned it, that we ought to spend eternity praising His Holy and glorious name!

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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