What a fantastic day of Bible Study! I’m in awe of how God is working in the lives of ladies all over Gonzales. I love hearing stories of what God is doing in your life through our study, so please keep sharing them with me! One friend of mine shared with me this morning that she is a relative “newbie” in the faith and she’s discovering just how much she has to learn! She’s hungry for it! That’s just what I’ve been asking God for – that He would give us a hunger for His Word. He is faithful and He will do it!
Remember your basic facts about 1 Peter? This letter is written by Peter in the mid-60s AD to new believers in Asia Minor. Peter wanted to encourage these “newbies” in the faith as they persevered through suffering and trials. Believers were suffering physical persecution (as well as familial, financial and social persecution) and false teachers were confusing the spread of the gospel message. Last week we talked about the importance of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so that we can stand firm against false teachers. We have to know how to identify false teachers so growing in our faith is super important! But we haven’t talked much about what we believe in as Christ-followers. We’ve got to know what we believe if we’re ever going to grow in the knowledge of it or stand firm in it!
Read 1 Peter 1:3-9.
Peter tells us right from the start the good news that we’ve been born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead. This living hope is what we know today as “salvation”. You’ve probably heard lots of “church words” thrown around like “saved” and “born again” and “asking Jesus into your heart”. We are saved when we place our trust in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We understand that we are sinners in need of a Savior. We understand that Jesus is our Savior and that he died and rose again to offer us the free gift of salvation – a living hope and an imperishable, undefiled, unfading inheritance. Not only do we have abundant life on earth, but God is holding a place in heaven for those who are saved.
Check out these verses. And side note – this may be a review of the basics for you. Try to read it with fresh eyes, like you’re reading a love letter written specifically to you! It’s amazing how that puts everything into a different light.
Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 10:9-10 – “But if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
THIS is what we believe. THIS Is what we stand firm in.
Every single one of us is a sinner! In this morning’s Bible Study class we called out some of the sins that women struggle with. Gossip, Pride and Jealousy were at the top of the list. But other sins like sexual immorality are important to note too – it’s mentioned so often in the Bible because so much of humanity struggles with this exact thing! We are all sinners in need of a Savior.
The price that had to be paid for that sin was death. In Old Testament times Moses would throw blood on the altar as a sacrifice was offered to signal purification and cleansing from sin. This had to be done over and over and over again. God knew there was a better way, so He sent His Son, Jesus to pay that blood-price once and for all! It’s a free gift that is offered to every single one of us; all we have to do is accept it.
The way we accept it is believing that what He says in His Word (the Bible) is true and confessing Him as Lord. That just means we have to make Him the boss of our lives – open hands, open heart, relinquishing control of ourselves and giving it to Him. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made and I hope you’ve made it too. Maybe you’ve just been going through the motions of this whole Christianity thing. We’re nice people to hang out with and we seem to have fun together. So maybe you just jumped in on that. But let me tell you, THERE IS MORE! Don’t be afraid to admit if you’ve never made the decision to follow Jesus with your life. Come talk to me – I will be THRILLED to share with you!
And for others of you, you made that decision long ago. That’s awesome. By coming to Bible Study and reading this blog, you’ve shown that you know how important it is to study the Bible. But I will tell you that THERE IS MORE for you too! There’s a process called sanctification that God wants to take you through from today until the day you take your last breath.
What is sanctification?
1 Peter 1:7 refers to the refining process that gold goes through for purification. The gold is melted to a super high temperature and the impurities are skimmed off as they rise to the surface. Anything that is not genuine does not remain. Our faith is the same way. It’s often through the trials, when life gets heated, that we are refined and purified if we let Him work in us. There are other choices we can make, of course. We don’t have to let Him sanctify us – He will never force that on us.
Read Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23, the Parable of the Sower.
What kind of soil is your heart made of?
The dirt on the path? These are the people who hear the Word of God, but they completely reject it right from the start. You and I were most likely both like that at some point. Thank God He didn’t give up on us!
Rocky ground? This kind of ground represents those people who really buy into all of this “Jesus stuff” at first, but at the first sign of trouble, whether trials or tests or any of the thousands of excuses we make, they take off and run away. There’s no root to hold them in place!
Thorny ground? Sometimes the cares of this world choke out all the good intentions that we have when it comes to following Christ. We make idols of things that are good – our husbands, our kids, our jobs, our churches, our friends, our money – and as we start to put our focus on those things, we are no longer following Jesus. The thorns have choked out the Word in us.
Good soil? I hope this describes you! The hearts of those that are totally surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in their lives are the good soil. Those who hear the Word and read the Word and willingly allow it to take root in their lives are the ones who bear the good fruit that God has called us to bear in Galatians 5:22-23.
Sanctification happens when the soil of our heart changes. Maybe you wouldn’t classify your heart as good soil right now. No problem – just tell God that you want Him to change that. HE WILL!!!!
The last part of this section of our Scripture today concerns Old Testament prophecy. Take a minute to read 1 Peter 1:10-12.
Old Testament prophets like Isaiah (read Isaiah 53 for some very specific prophecy) longed to see the prophecies fulfilled. They received messages from God to deliver to the people, but they didn’t get to see the fulfillment of those prophecies. How did they know what to say and what to write? They searched and inquired carefully. They had the Spirit of Christ in them (an amazing gift, considering the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit wasn’t given to believers until Pentecost!). That Spirit of Christ in them told them what to write, told them all about Jesus and what would happen hundreds of years after them. The Spirit of Christ showed them that they had a wonderful message to deliver but it wasn’t for themselves, it was for US! Prophets and angels longed to look into the future to understand this grace they predicted. While they offered sacrifices on the altar, by faith they proclaimed a new sacrifice, a once-and-for-all sacrifice that they would never even get to see for themselves.
They experienced direct revelation from God, but they never personally experienced God’s grace on earth! Grace is God’s (unmerited) favor toward us! He offers us eternity in heaven, which we certainly don’t deserve and can’t pay for ourselves. He offers us abundant life in this lifetime through His grace. Read Ephesians 2:4-8. It’s a beautiful explanation of God’s grace.
This summer we studied Scripture as a whole in our study, Seamless. We saw that there was a thread woven throughout Scripture, connecting all the pieces together. That thread is Jesus! He’s there in Old Testament prophecy and he’s there in the New Testament – prophecy fulfilled. All of Scripture points to ONE man – Jesus – and the salvation that He has provided for us through his life, death and resurrection. All of it exists because of his undying love for you. These words that you hold in your hand are a love letter to you from Him, detailing what he did and why he did it and what comes next. Read it. Study it. Let it sink in and change you and move you to action. Share it. Offer the same living hope to people that you come into contact with because they deserve to know the reason for the hope that you have – JESUS!